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Electric Aircraft

— Aircraft

Drone flight powered by lightweight hydrogen-producing pellets

At first glance, hydrogen fuel cells sound like a great power source for fixed-wing drones making long flights – they have much longer run times than batteries, and they emit no emissions other than water vapor. Unfortunately, the hydrogen typically has to be stored in large heavy pressurized tanks. Last month, however, a Raptor E1 electric drone made a successful test flight running on a unique new system that's actually lighter than the lithium-ion battery it replaced.

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Joby's wild 16-rotor convertible aircraft for long-range, high-speed, electric VTOL commuting

Personal electric VTOL (vertical take off and landing) commuting may not be far off, thanks to accelerating improvements in battery technology. Joby Aviation has put forward an incredible two-seater plane concept that uses 12 tilting electric propellers to provide multirotor-style balanced VTOL capabilities. Once it reaches cruising speeds, these rotors fold away into aerodynamic bullet shapes, and the aircraft can reach speeds of up to 200 mph (322 km/h) and ranges of up to 200 miles using four additional cruise-optimized props on the backs of the wings and tail fins.

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Volta Flyer is made to teach kids about solar-powered flight

Whether they've been crossing the English Channel, traversing the Alps, or attempting to fly around the world, solar-powered planes have been in the news a lot this year. While the aircraft are certainly fascinating and inspiring, there's no way that most of would ever be able to afford one … or is there? If a new Kickstarter campaign is successful, you'll be able to get a Volta Flyer solar airplane for just US$40. The only thing is, it'll be a little on the small side.

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Sunseeker Duo solar-powered airplane flies across the Alps – and back

This July, PC Aero’s single-seater solar-electric Elektra One Solar airplane got some media attention by flying across the Alps in both directions within one trip. Starting in 2009, however, Solar Flight president Eric Raymond took his solar-electric Sunseeker II over the mountain range a number of times. This August, he did his own over-and-back trip … although this time he flew his two-seater Sunseeker Duo, which allowed him to bring his wife Irena along as a second pilot.

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Students rise to NASA electric aircraft design challenge

In a recent challenge issued by NASA, university students were asked to design an electric aircraft envisaged to enter service in the year 2020 and be commercially competitive with standard piston-engine craft. In response, the space agency received submissions from 20 universities across the United States that not only met the brief but, in many cases, went above and beyond to really the impress the judges. We take a look at the top five prize winners. Read More
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Elektra One Solar becomes first solar-electric aircraft to cross the Alps in both directions

It's been quite a month for electric aircraft. First, the Solar Impulse 2 broke distance and duration records when it flew from Japan to Hawaii. Then, two competing teams both claimed to have made the world's first electric flight across the English Channel. Now, Germany's PC-Aero says that its Elektra One Solar has become the first solar-electric plane to cross the Alps in both directions.

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Electric aircraft makes first English Channel crossing

An electric aircraft has crossed the English Channel for the first time. The question is, which one is it? On Friday, Airbus Group announced that its E-Fan technology demonstrator claimed the prize by flying from Lydd, Kent to Calais. However, it soon came to light that French Aerobat Hugues Duval had flown from Dover to Calais 12 hours earlier on Thursday in a Cri-Cri electric plane. Exactly which one gets in the record books may hinge on a technicality.

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Solar Impulse 2 stuck in Hawaii after record-breaking flight

Flying around the world on only the power of the sun turns out to be more of a stop-and-go affair than even the team behind Solar Impulse 2 may have guessed. The solar-powered, single-pilot aircraft began circling the globe from Abu Dhabi back in March, but must now remain in Hawaii until early August. While Swiss pilot and Solar Impulse co-founder André Borschberg survived a record-breaking five-day flight from Nagoya, Japan to Oahu with just minimal sleep, SI2's batteries didn't all fare so well without rest. Read More
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E-Fan 2.0 makes podium appearance at Le Bourget

When we first covered the news of the E-Fan's first public flight, Airbus was only showing an artist's impression of what the production model of the two-seater electric demonstrator could look like. But this year the company had a full-sized version on display at the 51st Paris Air Show. In addition to straining our ears to listen to hear the original aircraft in the air above Le Bourget, we got the opportunity to rub shoulders with the sleek and sexy E-Fan 2.0 electric pilot trainer.

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