A new type of electric motor — weighing just 50 kilograms, but delivering a continuous power output of around 260 kilowatts (roughly 5 times comparable drive systems) — was recently demonstrated live in an Extra 330LE aerobatic airplane by researchers from Siemens, according to a press release from the German giant.
The (nearly silent) demonstration took place at Schwarze Heide Airport near Dinslaken, Germany, and represents the first public flight of an electric aircraft with a 260-kilowatt power output. The company’s plan is reportedly to integrate the technology into the development of hybrid-electric aircraft, in partnership with Airbus.
One of the main implications of this work, according to the press release, is that hybrid-electric aircraft possessing 4 or more seats will now be a possibility within the near future.
“This day will change aviation,” stated Frank Anton, head of eAircraft at Siemens’ central research unit Corporate Technology. “This is the first time that an electric aircraft in the quarter-megawatt performance class has flown.”
The press release notes that, “the Extra 330LE, which weighs nearly 1,000 kilograms, serves as a flying test bed for the new propulsion system. As an aerobatic airplane, it’s particularly well suited for taking the components to their limits, testing them and enhancing their design.”
Siemens and Airbus will reportedly be using the motor for the development of regional aircraft. “By 2030, we expect to see initial aircraft with up to 100 passengers and a range of around 1,000 kilometers,” continued Anton.
“The first flight of our propulsion system is a milestone on the road to electrification of aviation,” commented Siemens Chief Technology Officer Siegfried Russwurm. “To continue this journey successfully, we need disruptive ideas and the courage to take risks. That’s why the development of electric propulsion systems for aircraft is also the first project for our new start-up organization, next47.”