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All-electric plane sets new records: top speed of 340 km/h (211 mph) and first electric aerotow

Siemens has been pioneering battery-powered flight as part of its electric motor development program. They invented a new electric motor that they have installed an Extra 330LE prototype electric aerobatic plane.

The plane broke new world records recently for battery-powered aircraft. 

Today, the company announced the accomplishment, which was achieved last month:

“At the Dinslaken Schwarze Heide airfield in Germany, the electric aircraft reached a top speed of around 340 kilometers per hour (km/h) over a distance of three kilometers. On Friday, March 24, 2017, the Extra 330LE gave another premiere performance by becoming the world’s first electric aircraft to tow a glider into the sky. The nearly silent aerotow piloted by Walter Extra took a type LS8-neo glider up to a height of 600 meters in only 76 seconds.”

Batteries are often believed to be the main barrier for electric flight because of their weight. The energy density needs to improve and that is what some startups developing electric commercial airplanes are waiting for before the tech can reach the market.

But Siemens has been working on the power density of electric motors. The one installed in the Extra 330LE prototype has a power output of 260 kW and a weight of just 50 kg (110 lbs).

The development work done with this prototype will be used to produce regional airliners powered by hybrid-electric propulsion systems in partnership with Airbus.

Airbus has been developing its own electric plane prototype called the E-Fan concept, which became the first electric plane to fly across the English Channel in 2015.

Here’s the first flight of Siemens’ aircraft last year:

Featured image: Towing rope released: The nearly silent aerotow piloted by Walter Extra took a type LS8-neo glider up to a height of 600 meters in only 76 seconds. – picture by  Jean-Marie Urlacher via Siemens.

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