Aerobatic pilot and aircraft designer, Walter Extra, has set a new world record for time to climb in an electric aeroplane. The electrically powered Extra 330LE, climbed to 3000 metres, or 9842 feet, in 4 minutes 22 seconds, an average climb rate of about 2300 feet per minute. The record is for the new World Air Sports Federation C1b class for electric landplanes weighing between 500 and 1000 kg. By comparison, a petrol engine Extra 330 climbs at 3200 fpm.
The equivalent record for piston engine aeroplanes is 1min 59.5 seconds, set by a Continental TSIO-550-powered Lancair Legacy. For turbine powered sub 1000 kg aeroplanes, (!) it is held by a homebuilt Turbo Raven, powered by a Pratt and Whitney PT-6 at 1:09. A Cessna 172, for comparison has a rate of climb of 720 fpm at sea level, meaning it would take at least 14 minutes to reach 3000 m.
The dynamics of an electric aircraft are subtly different to one running on fossil fuel. An electric motor is unaffected by decreasing oxygen at altitude, but an electric aircraft does not get lighter as its fuel burns.
The Siemens electric motor used in the record flight weighs a svelte 50 kg and supplies a constant electric output of about 260 kilowatts, which its maker says is five times as much as comparable drives. ‘This is another milestone on the path to the electrification of air travel,’ head of eAircraft in Siemens’ hi-tech business unit Next 47, Frank Anton, said.
Siemens and Airbus are cooperating to apply this technology to electric-powered flight. ‘By 2030, we expect to see the first electric-powered planes carrying up to 100 passengers with a range of around 1000 km,’ Anton said.
Siemens is determined to establish hybrid-electric propulsion systems for aircraft as a future area of business.