The all-electric aerobatic plane Cri-Cri makes its debut as EADS drives environment-friendly technology innovations
The Cri-Cri (photo: EADS)
Fri 10 Sept 2010 – The first-ever four-engined all-electric plane, the Cri-Cri, made a seven-minute maiden flight at Le Bourget Airport outside Paris last week. The tiny aircraft 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. Although EADS, parent company of Airbus, concedes that batteries will not be able to propel larger aircraft at least in the near future, Cri-Cri is a low-cost test bed for electrical technologies in support of projects like the hybrid propulsion concept for helicopters the company is developing, says Chief Technical Officer, Jean Botti. Today, EADS opens its ‘Innovation @ Work’ technology laboratory in Germany which includes a display of developments in microalgae-based alternative aviation fuel.
Powered by high energy density lithium batteries, the Cri-Cri – jointly developed by EADS Innovation Works, Aero Composites Saintonge and the Green Cri-Cri Association – has four brushless electric motors with counter-rotating propellers, which deliver propulsion with no CO2 emissions and significantly lower noise compared to thermal propulsion.
Its performance allows for 30 minutes of autonomous cruise flight at 110km/h (68mph), 15 minutes of autonomous aerobatics at speeds up to 250km/h (155mph) and a climb rate of approximately 5.3 m/second (1,040 feet per minute).
The high-technology ‘Innovation @ Work’ laboratory in Ottobrunn, Bavaria is intended as a showcase for EADS’ leading-edge research and development in such areas as security, mobility, maintenance and the environment. It contains permanent exhibitions as well as displays that will regularly change, supported by multimedia presentations and original hardware. It also features a demonstration laboratory where scientists, customers, government officials, company employees and visitors will be informed about the latest developments from EADS.
Included is a focus on eco-efficient fuel sources for aviation, demonstrating the process of extracting fuel from microalgae.
In February, EADS signed a 12-month collaboration agreement with Singapore’s Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences (ICES) to assess the potential for microalgae as a renewable source of fuel for aircraft (see article). In June, EADS conducted a series of demonstration flights of a light aircraft powered by algae-based fuel and signed an agreement with an Argentine biofuel company to evaluate the creation of an aviation biofuel production facility in Brazil (see article).