Electric Plane Using Siemens Motor Sets 2 New Speed Records

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The Extra 330LE aerobatic plane — an electric aircraft featuring a propulsion system created by Siemens — recently set two new speed records, according to a press release on the matter.

The two new records are: a top speed record of 337.50 kilometers per hour (over a distance of 3 kilometers, for an electric aircraft with a takeoff weight less than 1,000 kilograms); and a top speed record of 342.86 kilometers per hour for an electric aircraft with a takeoff weight of over 1,000 kilograms. The second record was set by modifying the Extra 330LE aerobatic plane somewhat to make it heavier.

The records were set on March 23, 2017 at the Dinslaken Schwarze Heide airfield in Germany. They were officially recognized by the World Air Sports Federation (FAI).

Notably, the following day (March 24, 2017) saw the Extra 330LE become the first “electric aircraft to tow a glider (a type LS8-neo glider) into the sky,” as well. The Extra 330LE took the glider to a height of 600 meters in 76 seconds.

“This aerotow provides further highly visible evidence of our record-setting motor’s performance capabilities,” commented Frank Anton, head of eAircraft at the Siemens venture capital unit next47. “Just 6 such propulsion units would be sufficient to power a typical 19-seat hybrid-electric airplane.”

The press release provides more:

“The new propulsion system from Siemens only recently completed its maiden flight, which took place in July 2016. In addition, the lightweight electric motor for aircraft already held a world record for power-to-weight ratio: weighing just 50 kilograms, it supplies a constant electric output of 260 kilowatts, which is 5 times more than comparable propulsion systems.

“The Extra 330LE, which weighs about 1,000 kilograms, serves as the flying test bed for the new propulsion system. As an aerobatic plane, it is particularly well suited for taking the components to their stress limits and for testing and enhancing them. Currently, there are no plans for series production of this electric plane. Siemens is also contributing this technology to its joint project with Airbus in the area of electrically powered flight. In this connection, the two companies signed a collaboration agreement in April 2016.”

Commenting on the company’s plans, Anton noted: “By 2030, we expect to see the first planes carrying up to 100 passengers and having a range of about 1,000 kilometers.”

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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