Airbus E-Fan electric plane project takes off with new factory in Pau

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Airbus Group has agreed with the Aquitaine region to build the Final Assembly Line (FAL) for the Airbus E-Fan 2.0 all-electric aircraft in Pau, southwest France.

The decision was announced by Airbus Group Chief Technical Officer (CTO) Jean Botti and Alain Rousset, President of the Aquitaine region, during a press conference in Bordeaux, the capital city of Aquitaine.

“We have reached the next milestone in our Airbus Group E-Aircraft roadmap. The industrialisation of our Airbus E-Fan aircraft will help us to advance electric flight and also to gain experience to scale up the technology,” said Jean Botti, Airbus Group CTO.

Airbus Group will invest € 20 million in the overall design and development of the E-Fan 2.0 aircraft, in addition to contributions from Airbus Group’s partners. The consortium is supported by La Nouvelle France Industrielle. The Aquitaine region is also supporting the project through a regional subsidy and the FEDER (Le Fonds Européen de Développement Regional) investment for a total of € 2.25 million.

“With this new assembly line, Airbus Group is preparing for the future and creating new jobs and business in the Aquitaine region,” he added.

Voltair SAS, created in 2014 and owned 100 percent by Airbus Group, will manage the E-Fan development, production and delivery in the Pau area. Voltair will also be in charge of selling and providing services like maintenance for the E-Fan aircraft.

E-Fan Electric Plane

Pau, which is already a regional centre for the aeronautics industry in France, was chosen as it is located close to design partner Daher and offers direct access to the runway, a medium size airport and good meteorological conditions. The purchase of the site from the current owner is due to be signed by mid-year 2015 with construction works for the FAL scheduled to start in the middle of 2016. The targeted goal for entry-into-service of the first E-Fan 2.0 is around the end of 2017 or beginning of 2018. E-Fan 2.0 is a key project in the industrial plans launched by the French government in 2013.

Airbus E-Fan Electric Aircraft

Airbus Group will bring its electric technical demonstrator aircraft, E-Fan, into serial production with the E-Fan 2.0, a two-seater version dedicated to initial pilot training. Airbus Group’s E-Fan project started in 2012 with an intensive development phase of more than 12 months.

The demonstrator aircraft was first presented at the Paris Air Show in 2013. Since its first flight on 11 March 2014, the E-Fan has performed more than 78 test flights with more than 38 flight hours in total.

The E-Fam engine

The Airbus E-Fan propulsion is provided by two electric motors with a combined power of 60 kilowatt, each driving a ducted, variable pitch fan. The duct increases the static thrust, it reduces the perceived noise and improves safety on the ground.

The E-Fan is powered by Lithium-ion polymer batteries

The E-Fan’s motors are powered by a series of 250 Volt Lithium-ion polymer batteries based on cells made by KOKAM in South Korea. They are housed within the inboard part of the wings outside the cockpit, and provided with venting and passive cooling.

E-Fan wheel and motor

Another innovation of the E-Fan is its landing gear, which consists of 2 wheels positioned fore and aft under the fuselage, plus two small wheels under the wings. The aft main wheel is driven by a 6 kilowatt electric motor, providing power for taxiing and acceleration up to 60 km/h during take-off, reducing overall electrical power consumption in day-to-day operation.

E-Fan cockpit

An optimised electrical energy management system (e-FADEC) is integrated into the aircraft, which automatically handles all electrical features, thereby simplifying the monitoring and controlling of the systems. The e-FADEC reduces the pilots’ workloads, allowing the instructor and the student to fly the aircraft and focus on the training mission.

The aim by Airbus Group is to create a family of E-Fan aircraft. The first, planned to enter service in 2018, will be the E-Fan 2.0 which will be configured with side-by-side seating for the instructor and student. A larger E-Fan 4.0 variant is scheduled to arrive in 2019. This aircraft will also have a combustion engine to increase its range.

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