1st Battery-Powered Planes Make Historic Flight

1st Battery-Powered Planes Make Historic Flight1st Battery-Powered Planes Make Historic Flight

The English Channel became the site of a new milestone on Friday when two electric planes crossed its waters in opposite directions, the first battery-powered aircraft to be flown across the sea.

On Friday, aircraft manufacturer Airbus announced the successful journey of its E-Fan electric plane, flown by test pilot Didier Esteyne, who took off from Lydd airfield in Kent and touched down in Calais after a 37-minute flight, taking slightly longer to complete the crossing than his predecessor Louis Bleriot 106 years ago, Sputnik reported.

The Airbus plane weighs 600 kg, and its lithium-ion battery system alone weighs 167 kg; it traveled at an altitude of about 1,000 meters. Before Friday's journey, the aircraft had carried out more than 100 flights and a test program in preparation for the Channel crossing attempt.

"E-Fan is a crucial step on Airbus Group’s journey toward all-electric aviation," says Airbus, which is also developing E-Fan 2.0 and 4.0 versions of the aircraft. The company hopes to start production of the two-seater E-Fan 2.0 series in 2017. The E-Fan 4.0 will be a four-seat electric airplane, available for the general aviation market.

Airbus announced the historic significance of its achievement on Friday, with Jean Botti, Airbus Group Chief Technical Officer stating, "The 10th of July 2015 will now join the list of famous days in aviation history, and I am sure Bleriot would be proud of this achievement."

Airbus test pilot Didier Esteyne said the flight represented "The beginning of great innovations," potentially leading to commercial flights on electric or hybrid electric planes.