Friedrichshafen – Tuesday, one day before the official opening of the 26th AERO, the global show for general aviation, the highlights of the show were presented during a media day event. The development of quiet and environmentally friendly electric aircraft for general aviation continues to pick up speed. With a comprehensive range of offers in general aviation, the AERO will take off from April 18 to 21, 2018 with 630 exhibitors from 38 countries on board. For the first time, trade visitors will be invited to a new technical attraction, the Flight Simulator Area for professional pilot training. A broad selection of very diverse aircraft is at the center of the international aviation show: The colorful palette at Lake Constance ranges from ultralight aircraft to cruising aircraft, from helicopters to business jets. Also included are unmanned civilian drones. The e-flight-expo is also taking an increasingly prominent role.
Aircraft with electric propulsion are already in mass production. On Tuesday, as part of an e-flight demonstration, several aircraft were presented in the skies over the airport and Messe Friedrichshafen, including the world premiere of a hybrid airplane.
Magnus Aircraft’s eFusion is a new propeller-driven aircraft from Hungary that is propelled by a Siemens eAircraft electric motor and powered by batteries made by the German company. The plane can accommodate two pilots on a longer journey and is also suitable for stunt flying. A few days before the start of the show, the maiden flight of the eFusion by Siemens eAircraft and Magnus Aircraft was carried out with the brand new Siemens hybrid drive, which is powered by a combination of an electric motor and a smart-ecofly diesel engine. As a world premiere, the new hybrid plane was the focus of the kickoff of the AERO. Its two sister models, both of which are completely electrically powered, were also introduced in flight, which was as quiet as a whisper.
The Antares 20E by Germany’s Lange Aviation is also an electric aircraft, a high performance powered glider. The electric motor, including the propeller, is normally hidden in the fuselage but is deployed when thermal currents are insufficient to enable an ascent. With a wingspan of 20 meters, the Antares 20E demonstrates excellent gliding characteristics.
An electric motor also powers the ultralight Skyleader 400 from Czech aircraft maker Jihlavan Aeroplanes. The electric two-seat low-wing aircraft was also displayed in the skies over Friedrichshafen and can reach speeds of up to 200 km/h (124 mph).
The German company Lange Research Aircraft GmbH is also presenting an unusual aircraft at the AERO, but is doing so on the ground, not in flight. The E2, based on a glider, features no fewer than six electric motors, each driven by a propeller. They are powered by a fuel cell. The aircraft, used for research or surveillance purposes, can fly manned or unmanned and is intended to stay airborne for up to 40 hours, all while staying CO2 neutral. It is expected to take its maiden flight in summer.
As last year, EAC Whisper (France) is presenting The Whisper. It’s an 8-engine, 8-rotor, two-seater electric rotorcraft.
Safety, low noise, performance, ease of control, and maintenance cost reduction are the tenants of this concept. The company plans to move towards manufacture and marketing within two years, with the goal to sell ten machines in 2020, twenty in 2021, and forty in 2022. The target buyer will be international private clientele, which will also offered after-sales services. Current flight time is up to thirty minutes, but it’s expected to be increased with future battery technology. An emergency parachute is part of the concept, however it will also be possible to land in the case of a single rotor failure.