On 10 July, the E-Fan electric aircraft crossed the English Channel. The 46 mile (74 km) flight between Lydd (UK) and Calais (France) was carried out by the pilot, Didier Esteyne, in 36 minutes. A flight that owed its success to the polymer lithium-ion batteries housed within the wing and that fuel the engines. At present, they provide an autonomy of 45 minutes to one hour and can be recharged in an hour. Didier Esteyne, E-Fan test pilot: "We’ve done it, we will do much better within the next few months, and in the years to come. In a little less than a year, we have doubled the autonomy of the aircraft and can do better."
On 25 July, 1909, Louis Blériot took off from Calais in his Bleriot XI to cross the Channel by ‘plane to England. An aircraft, which in addition to its records was the first to be manufactured in series: thus establishing the beginnings of the French aviation industry. It was therefore in the wake of its ancestor that the E-Fan symbolically achieved the return flight, 106 years later. Emmanuel Joubert, Technical Manager - Airbus Group: "We are at present talking about Airbus, but above about general aviation first. It is also the aim of our project to make it quieter and cleaner."
And Airbus Group does not intend to stop here. One objective of the E-Fan programme is to develop bigger electric engined airplanes; but before that, the two-seater is to be marketed in 2017 to become the first electrically powered trainer aircraft.
However just for the record books, regarding this electric aircraft Channel crossing, the E-Fan was pipped at the post the day before, by Hugues Duval of the French Yankee Delta company, who connected Dover (UK) to Calais (France) in 17 minutes in an electric Cricri.