E-plane flies with record-breaking motor

July 05, 2016 //By Christoph Hammerschmidt
E-plane flies with record-breaking motor
Researchers from Siemens have developed an electric motor that is optimized for usage in airplanes. The motor’s power-to-weight ratio is five times better than that of industrial electric motors and still 2.5 times better than that of motors for e-cars, Siemens claims. An experimental plane with this motor recently had its maiden flight. The new powertrain opens up interesting alternatives for large airplane propulsion systems.

The motor, developed by Siemens, has a performance of 260 kilowatts at a weight of just 50 kilograms. The electric company integrated the motor into an Extra 330LE single-engine aerobatics plane from Extra Aircraft GmbH. The lithium-ion battery has been provided by Slovenian aircraft manufacturer Pipistrel.

 


Compact yet powerful: This photo illustrates
the small form factor of Siemens' e-motor

According to Frank Anton, head of the eAircraft department in Siemens’ Corporate Technology Research, the electric Extra 330LE’s maiden flight is the first time an electric plane with a powertrain in the quarter-megawatt class has been flown. The Extra 330LE which has a weight of just about 1000 kg, serves as a test bed for the new drive. Being an aerobatics plane, the Extra 330LE suits particularly well to bring all components to their physical limits and to further develop them.

Siemens plans to contribute with technology of an electric aircraft motor to its collaboration with Airbus. Since electric drives are scaling well, both companies hope to develop regional aircraft with hybrid-electric powertrains. “By 2030, we expert first passenger planes with a capacity up to 100 seats and a range of 1000 kilometers”, Anton explains.

The development of a electric aircraft powertrains is also the first project of Siemens’ recently launched startup organization next47.

 


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