A plan for the production of electric aircraft was recently announced by the Airbus Group, with the E-Fan 2.0 slated for completion by late 2017 or early 2018. Following prior success in aeronautical innovation, Airbus Group plans to invest €20 million into the design and development of the electric aircraft.
Voltair, a subsidiary of Airbus Group, is tasked to build the electric aircraft, in a new manufacturing plant located in Pau, south-west France. Construction of the electric aircraft will start in 2016.
French Flight Industry Lead Aeronautics Breakthrough
At the start of production, the number of electric planes will be limited to a small number. But eventually, the volume will increase by 80 units every year by 2025.
Voltair stated that they will also handle the sales and services for the E-Fan 2.0 electric aircraft. The La Nouvelle France Industrielle is also supporting the project.
Another investor in the project is the Aquitaine region through its FEDER (Le Fonds Européen de Développement Regional) project and its regional subsidy totalling to about €2.25 million.
Pau is a regional hub for France’s aeronautics industry, and is a leader in advanced aeronautical advancements. This place was selected since it is near Daher, the project’s design partner. It also provides direct access to a medium size airport with a good runway and convenient meteorological conditions.
The final purchase of the manufacturing location is set to be signed in the middle of 2015 and the entry-of-service target is at the end of 2017 or the start of 2018. This project is a major component of the French budget which was introduced in 2013.
Quiet, Cost Effective and Lower Carbon Emissions
The Airbus Group will integrate its electric E-Fan prototype with the serial manufacturing of the E-Fan 2.0. This prototype is a two-seater aircraft used in pilot training.
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The E-Fan project of the Airbus Group began in 2012 after having an intensive developmental phase taking over 12 months. The prototype aircraft was unveiled in 2013 at the Paris Air Show.
It went on its first flight on March 11, 2014, and since then has logged over 78 test flights. The electric aircraft has now logged over 38 flight hours.
“We have reached the next milestone in our Airbus Group E-Aircraft roadmap. The industrialisation of our E-Fan aircraft will help us to advance electric flight and also to gain experience to scale up the technology,” says Jean Botti, Airbus Group CTO.
Botti also said that with their new assembly line, Airbus Group can now prepare for the future and create more business and more jobs in the region of Aquitaine.
The E-Fan 2.0 will take a full hour in recharging its batteries while parked on the ground. On a full charge, it will be able to fly for about five hours every day.
Since it is powered by an electric motor, the plane will be flying quietly or at a much lower noise level than conventional aircraft. Operating cost will also be lower by about 30 per cent.