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Aerobatic Cri-Cri plane completes initial flight

A four-engine all-electric aerobatic plane made its official maiden flight at Le Bourget airport today.

The Cri-Cri aircraft, developed jointly by EADS Innovation Works, Aero Composites Saintonge and the Green Cri-Cri Association, took off at 11:12am CET for a seven-minute flight.

According to EADS, take-off and climb were smooth, no vibrations could be felt and manoeuvrability was described as ‘excellent’.

‘This aircraft flies very smoothly, much more quietly than a plane with conventional propulsion,’ said pilot Didier Esteyne. ‘But we are still at the beginning and have a lot to learn. We are allowed to start aerobatic manoeuvres only after five hours of flight and 15 landings.’

‘The Cri-Cri is a low-cost test bed for system integration of electrical technologies in support of projects such as our hybrid propulsion concept for helicopters,’ added Jean Botti, chief technical officer, EADS. ‘We hope to get a lot of useful information out of this project.’

The aerobatic plane incorporates lightweight composite structures that reduce the weight of the airframe and compensate for the additional weight of the batteries, four brushless electric motors with counter-rotating propellers and high-energy-density Lithium batteries.

Cri-Cri’s capabilities:

30 minutes of autonomous cruise flight at 110kmh

15 minutes of autonomous aerobatics at speeds reaching up to 250kmh

Climb rate of approximately 5.3m/sec

Source: EADS

Readers' comments (3)

  • There's also no critical altitude. In fact as it climbs higher things should cool down and make the electrics more efficient as the true airspeed goes up in the thinner air. There is also more flexibility as to where the batteries can go whereas liquid fuel has to go near the CG so it doesn't get out of balance as it burns off. There is also no fire danger after a survivable crash. Energy can be recaptured during descents using regenerative braking of the props. Solar panels can be placed on the wing surface to slow charge the batteries both in flight and when parked on the ramp. Really, when you think about it electric planes make a lot of sense.

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  • does any body have any idea how much his batteries weighed? 30-60 minutes of flight is a big trade-off if you wish to go somwhere, you can't just plug into a sky socket! I am considering electrics for my own plane and am prepared to allocate 60kgs for the power scourse, but I have yet to find any one that help me with the technical side.

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  • Hmmm, maybe some scale would help:

    For a long haul jet, 4 jet engines at ~20 MW each at takeoff = 100 MW, or one tenth of a nuclear power station.

    For an 8 hour flight, 50 MW (half power for crusing) * 29000 seconds = 1450 GJ. Using a Li-ion battery energy density of ~ 1 MJ kg^-1, you would need 1450 tonnes of batteries. Or 34 tonnes of kerosene (excluding engine thermal efficiency).

    There is a vast 845 m^2 of wing area on an A380. Unfortunately, at ~100 W m^-2 = 0.085 MW, or about enough to operate the toilet system - possibly.

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