10 July 2015, Calais, France – Airbus Group’s E-Fan technology demonstrator, first exhibited during the last Paris Air Show, today became the world’s first all-electric two engine aircraft taking off by its own power to successfully cross the Channel, one century after Louis Blériot’s epic flight on the dawn of aviation. The E-Fan’s flight of 74kilometres [46 miles] between England, and Calais in France was completed in 36 minutes.
The E-Fan is powered by lithium-ion batteries, which offer an increased battery capacity of 60 percent compared to the aircraft’s original configuration. Flown by test pilot Didier Esteyne, the E-Fan weighs around 600 kilogrammes [1,320 pounds] and travelled at a maximum altitude of about 1,000 metres [3,500 feet].
Louis Blériot was one of the most famous aviation pioneers of his time. He performed the Channel crossing on 25 July 1909 in his Blériot XI, an aircraft that not only became the record–breaking aeroplane of 1909 and 1910, but also the first aircraft to be put into mass production thus launching France’s aviation industry. Bleriot’s company was based in Suresnes, a stone-throw from Paris, at the same site where part of the E-Fan team is today located.
“The E-Fan project and today’s historic Channel crossing show that the pioneering spirit and ingenuity demonstrated by Louis Blériot and the other early aviators is still alive today. The 10th of July 2015 will now join the list of famous days in aviation history and I’m sure Blériot would be proud of this achievement,” said Jean Botti, Airbus Group Chief Technical Officer. “We continue to embody the spirit of innovation and tackle technical challenges which both advance aerospace as we know it today and pioneer the next generation of electric and hybrid flight,” added Jean Botti.
By Jeanne Ndiayé