The all-electric Cri-Cri, jointly developed by EADS Innovation Works, Aero Composites Saintonge and the Green Cri-Cri Association made its official maiden flight at Le Bourget airport near Paris last Thursday.
This Cri-Cri, the first-ever four-engined all-electric aerobatic plane, was first shown at the Green Aviation Show at Le Bourget in June.
The plane became airborne at 11:12 CET, and take-off and climb were smooth, no vibrations could be felt and manoeuvrability was excellent. All systems performed well and the plane returned safely after seven minutes.
“This aircraft flies very smoothly, much more quietly than a plane with conventional propulsion,” said Didier Esteyne, who piloted the all-electric Cri-Cri. “But we are still at the beginning and have a lot to learn. We are allowed to start aerobatic manoeuvres only after five hours of flight and 15 landings.”
“The Cri-Cri is a low-cost test bed for system integration of electrical technologies in support of projects like our hybrid propulsion concept for helicopters,” stated Jean Botti, EADS’s Chief Technical Officer. “We hope to get a lot of useful information out of this project.” In the near future batteries will not able to propel larger aircraft.
The aerobatic plane incorporates numerous innovative technologies such as lightweight composite structures that reduce the weight of the airframe and compensate for the additional weight of the batteries, four brushless electric motors with counter-rotating propellers which deliver propulsion without CO2 emissions and significantly lower noise compared to thermal propulsion, and high energy-density Lithium batteries.
The combined utilisation of these environment-friendly technical innovations enables the Cri-Cri to deliver novel performance values: 30 minutes of autonomous cruise flight at 110 km/h, 15 minutes of autonomous aerobatics at speeds reaching up to 250 km/h, and a climb rate of approximately 5.3 m/sec.
With research projects on algae based biofuel, a helicopter hybrid propulsion system combining electrical power with piston engines and the all electric Cri-Cri, EADS is exploring technologies for environmentally friendly air travel.