European defence firm EADS (the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company) showcased a new pioneering electric aircraft design at the recent Green Aviation Show held in Paris.
The aircraft is based on the Colomban Cri Cri – the smallest twin-engined aircraft in the world – but adds new-age technologies and two extra engines.
The result – according to EADS – is the first four-engined, electric-powered aerobatic aircraft in history.
Electric Cri-cri (Photo:EADS)
EADS has partnered with Aero Composites Saintonge and the Greencri-cri Association to develop the aircraft, which uses composites to reduce weight and compensate for the extra mass of the lithium batteries. The single-seat Cri-Cri is powered by four brushless electric motors driving counter-rotating propellers.
EADS says the electric Cri-cri will be able to cruise for 30min at 110km/h (60kt), perform 15min of aerobatics at speeds up to 250km/h (135kt) and climb at 5.3m/sec (980ft/min). First flight is expected in a few days, the company says. The standard Cri-cri has two 15hp piston engines, and a 100kt cruise.
The electric Cri-cri unveiling follows the Innovation Works” algae-biofuel flight demonstration at the ILA Berlin Airshow, where it also revealed its concept for a hybrid diesel-electric light helicopter. EADS and its Eurocopter subsidiary also signed an agreement with BioCombustibles del Chubut to evaluate the creation of a microalgae biofuel production plant in Brazil. Helicopter biofuel flight tests are also in the cards. Eurocopter has a subsidiary – Helibras – in Brazil.