Pushing innovation is one of the cornerstones of aviation advancement. Whilst the industry is working hard to make both more fuel efficient aircraft and lower-carbon fuels, there is a new aircraft being developed that would skip over those steps entirely.

The Airbus Group has been developing an electric aircraft – the E-Fan – which is powered by a series of batteries contained in the wing’s inboard section. The company is rolling out two- and four-seater versions of the E-Fan for pilot training and general aviation over the next few years. Its modern, connected cockpit will make learning how to fly more intuitive, while the digital controls automatically handle the electrical functions.

As a highly-efficient propulsion system, E-Fan’s engines are electric motors that provide all of the power needed from take-off to landing. The engines are almost noise-free while its zero emissions contribute to reducing aviation’s impact on the environment.

Small electric aircraft are seen as a key step towards introducing electric propulsion on larger planes – perhaps even regional-sized aircraft. As a highly innovative technology flying testbed, the E-Fan demonstrator is stimulating research in electric propulsion is and also helping to promote the certification of electrical flight concepts.

The E-Fan is aligned with the European Commission’s “Flightpath 2050” goals. These call for significant reductions in aircraft CO2emissions and noise to ensure the aviation industry’s sustainable development.

The aircraft made its first public flight in April 2014 and on 10 July 2015 the E-Fan technology demonstrator became the world’s first all-electric two-engine aircraft taking off by its own power to successfully cross the Channel. The E-Fan’s flight of 74 kilometres between Lydd, England, and Calais in France was completed in 36 minutes, proving the potential of electric flight.