Work last week also saw me on the site of the new track feeder station for EGIP, the Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Project railway electrification. This alongside the Leaf led to a conversation about how far electric transport could go. Widebody air travel may be a way off yet, but electric aircraft are here now……….
Airbus have been developing this for a while and in 2015 flew it across the channel. An hours flying time makes it at least a leisure craft.EFan 2 is intended as a pilot trainer, with a 90 minute flight time. The current iteration has a Range EXtender engine, (REX), along with higher energy density batteries.
Pipistrel claim to have developed the worlds first two seat production electric aircraft with the Alpha intended as a flight school trainer. Swappable battery packs make it an all day trainer.
The earlier plane is a self-launching glider.
There is also a high performance plane in development at Electro-Flight which intends to use contra rotating propellers with individual stacked motors.
Siemens have also been in on the act,
They have been in the electric propulsion world since at least 1879, and also worked on the worlds first fully electric ferry.
Sikorsky developed an electric helicopter with a 15 minute flight time, showing it in 2010.
Other developments include the Volocopter, which might offer short range personal air transport for the masses. Autonomous Air Taxi anyone?