All-composite Airbus E-Fan aircraft prepares for cross-Channel flight

This will mark the first electric-powered aircraft to cross the English Channel.

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Airbus Group’s all-electric E-Fan technology demonstrator aircraft is being readied for its Channel crossing this Friday, July 10. The aircraft will soon be on its way from France's Aquitaine region to the starting point of its Channel crossing in Lydd, England for the 38 minute journey.

Transported on a truck and shipped by a ferry from the French to the English side of the Channel, the E-Fan will perform first test flights on Thursday, July 9 in Lydd. The historic flight over the Channel follows the footsteps of Louis Blériot’s first Channel crossing 106 years ago. 

The French Direction Générale de l'Aviation Civile (DGAC), Airbus Group and its partners have elaborated a dedicated test and verification program to assure the safety for the Channel flight of the E-Fan technology demonstrator.

 “We are very much looking forward to this challenge. For months, we have been in contact with authorities and flight regulations and have performed an in-depth analysis of the flight profile. We have followed all requirements for safety verification in close cooperation with DGAC. That is something which may not have been necessary 100 years ago, when aviation pioneer Louis Blériot performed his channel crossing. Back then, his flight was just a race to be first. Today, following rules and obtaining certifications is of crucial importance for the future of safe, reliable and certifiable electric flight,” said Jean Botti, Airbus Group Chief Technical Officer.

The all-electric aircraft was produced with carbon fiber composite materials and can cruise at 100 mph for up to an hour before changing batteries. 

The E-Fan demonstrator was developed in a Airbus Group Innovations-led progm, which paves the way for two subsequent production versions: E-Fan 2.0 for basic pilot training, and then E-Fan 4.0, a four-seat airplane for full pilot licensing and the general aviation market. Airbus Group will build the Final Assembly Line for the E-Fan 2.0 all-electric aircraft in Pau, southwest France. The targeted goal for entry-into-service of the first E-Fan 2.0 is around the end of 2017 or beginning of 2018.