With all the hot news of expanding electric vehicle (EV) charging networks, we’d be remiss not to mention that last year’s electric aircraft explosion is still going. Of course, it’s not rapid growth of market share at this stage, but is more where electric cars were a decade or two ago. The tech has also been evolving for years, but mostly in quiet behind the scenes that Tesla and BYD play on. An electric version of the Extra 300L aircraft out of Germany is what caught our eye most recently.
Walter Extra, founder of the Extra Aircraft company, converted this two-seat electric aircraft to fly quieter, cleaner, and more enjoyably. The Extra 330LE was matted to a Siemens electric motor that gets the aircraft up to 3,000 meters in just 4 minutes and 22 seconds, with a climbing rate of 11.5 m/s. The electric airplane (e-plane) was officially recognized by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) and already won the climb performance world record in November 2016. It also holds some electric aircraft speed records from mid-2016.
Its top speed is 337.50km/h (209 mph) over 3 kilometers (1.86 miles). Its dimensions are 7.5 meters (24.6 ft) in length, a height of 2.6 meters (8.6 ft), and a wingspan of 8 meters (26.3 ft) for a total wing area of 10.84m² (116.7ft²).
And this little Extra 330LE packs a lot of performance. It was the first electric aircraft to tow an LS8-neo-type glider at a height of 600m in 76 seconds in March 2017. It uses a direct-drive 580V Siemens-electric SP260D motor that puts out 260 kW (348 hp) that spins at 2,500 RPM. It has a continuous torque of 1,000 Nm (737.56 lb-ft.). The electric motor only weighs 50 kg (110 lb) with airscrew bearings, which makes it a very low power-to-weight ratio of 5 kilowatts per kilogram (1 kilo = 2.20 lb). It was developed by Siemens with the cooperation of Germany’s Aeronautics Research Program (LuFo), MT-Propeller, and Pipistrel. Told you the electric aviation world is a small knit family affair!
The Extra 330LE uses two battery packs made up of 14 lithium battery cells for a total capacity of 18.6 kWh. Its overall weight is approximately 1,000 kg, while its the average climb rate is 2,300 ft a minute.
E-planes are perfect for aerobatics since they don’t fly a long time. The Extra 330LE can be flown for 20-minute flights, which includes takeoff, climbing, and 5 minutes of blissful full-throttle flight.