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First public flight of Siemens 260kW electric motor; to be used in development of hybrid-electric aircraft

Siemens researchers have developed a new type of electric motor that, with a weight of just 50 kilograms, delivers a continuous output of about 260 kilowatts—five times more than comparable drive systems. (Earlier post.) This record-setting propulsion system successfully completed its first public flight at Schwarze Heide Airport near Dinslaken, Germany, where it powered an Extra 330LE aerobatic airplane.

The new drive system made its maiden flight on 24 June 2016. Siemens will be contributing this technology to the cooperative project that Siemens and Airbus agreed to in April 2016 for driving the development of electrically powered flight. (Earlier post.)

This day will change aviation. This is the first time that an electric aircraft in the quarter-megawatt performance class has flown.

—Frank Anton, head of eAircraft at Siemens’ central research unit Corporate Technology

For the first time, a plane in the certification category CS23 flies with Permit-to-Fly purely electric. The plane is powered by a 260 kW Siemens motor that weighs a mere 50 kg—a record-setting power-to-weight ratio.The Extra 330LE, which weighs nearly 1,000 kilograms, serves as a flying test bed for the new propulsion system. As an aerobatic airplane, it’s particularly well suited for taking the components to their limits, testing them and enhancing their design. Click to enlarge.

Siemens and Airbus will use the record-setting motor as a basis for developing regional airliners powered by hybrid-electric propulsion systems. Anton said they they expect to see initial hybrid aircraft with up to 100 passengers and a range of around 1,000 kilometers by around 2030. Siemens is determined to establish hybrid-electric propulsion systems for aircraft as a future area of business.

The first flight of our propulsion system is a milestone on the road to electrification of aviation. To continue this journey successfully, we need disruptive ideas and the courage to take risks. That’s why the development of electric propulsion systems for aircraft is also the first project for our new start-up organization, next47.

—Siemens Chief Technology Officer Siegfried Russwurm.

Germany’s Aeronautics Research Program (LuFo) supported development of this motor. The Extra 330LE was created in cooperation with Siemens, Extra Aircraft, MT-Propeller and Pipistrel (battery).



A 5.2:1 continuous power ratio (probably capable of 2X or 10.4:1 for take offs) is very good news for future electric planes.

Near future bio-ethanol FCs + a few batteries for take off, could give near future (prop) e-planes the range required for training + private use + domestic flights.


More Bang + Less Buck = Good!


What they really need is an ultralight power source.  Beamed microwaves fill that bill.  You don't have to carry anything except the receiving antenna.  Heavily-run air routes could be covered by beamed-power transmitters so that aircraft wouldn't need to operate engines and could fly emissions-free.

Bob Niland

re: Beamed microwaves fill that bill.

I read that scifi story in the 60s. As I recall, it was slowly killing people until the protagonist invented an alternative and got the power projector industry to stand down.

I suspect we are already at the point where electric aero motors are sufficient for short-duration applications like motor-gliders, skydiving and nearby island-hopping.


Early e-planes could use a very light, small recoverable SS rocket for take off, instead having to carry 100+ Kgs of batteries, until batteries energy density have reached 10+X ?


Shut up and take your medication, Harvey.


I think real electric aviation will be hybrid. Batteries for take-off and fossil for long range flight.
Whether you have a serial or parallel system is another.
You might use a turbine to generate electricity and an array of motors for propulsion.

A major advantage will be quiet operation near the ground and low CO2.
A disadvantage will be the cost of multiple engines and the cost and weight of high power wiring between the batteries and engines.


400Wh/kg is sufficient for training flights, which are usually only 1 hour in duration and return to base. 225 kg / 500 lbs would be enough to complete the flight with the required 30 minute reserve.

That would also satisfy the requirements for most sport/recreational flight.

In very small planes like trainers and light sport, there is probably not sufficient space for ethanol SOFC. A car only requires 20 hp to go down the highway at a steady speed. A small two passenger plane typically requires 60 hp.

Bob Niland

re: A major advantage will be quiet operation near the ground…

Unfortunately, the majority of the noise from light aircraft is not the unmuffled IC motor, but propeller noise. Tips going supersonic at takeoff exacerbate it.

Ducted fans and more blades, perhaps scimitar, help, but it's not a simple problem.


Propellers can be downspeeded if you have enough ground clearance to increase the diameter, but this also lowers the sound frequency and makes it carry further.  However, there is no set number of electric motors that an aircraft has to use.  Instead of one on the nose, you could easily have six on the wings.  Six three-foot propellers turning the same speed as one six-foot propeller would have far less tip noise and higher Froude efficiency to boot.


@Bob Niland - good point. Which is why the Airbus E-Fan uses ducted fans. Also for efficiency (under 120kts).

(resume flame war about efficiency of ducted fans below this line.........)


E-P is almost as polite as DT? Is he trying to tell us how he is going to vote in November 2016?


You don't know the first thing about rockets, Harvey.  Maybe medication can help you with your Tourette's, or whatever it is.


Where does E-P get all those false charges and accusations? He must feel dreadful thinking that he is the only (WS) God like poster.

Hope that it makes him feel better and that his Tourette and or other reflected images are not getting worse.


If you're such a rocket scientist, Harvey, compare the fuel consumption and carbon emissions of a rocket capable of launching an aircraft to doing it the normal way, with the engine and propeller.  Post your work here.  Show how your idea actually makes the problem better... oh, and also meets environmental limits for noise, smoke and the like.

Or you could just stop posting ignorant nonsense.


@Godlike E-P:

A few early Jet Planes used small SS rockets to help during take offs on very short runways, at least until Jet Engine power was increased to do it without secondary assistance.

Early prop e-planes may have similar problem, at least until batteries or clean running bio-fuel FCs energy density are high enough to do it.

Beaming microwave energy from the ground to many thousand e-planes (sounds good) but is not your best proposition, unless you like partly fried ducks, bats, other birds three times/day?


I know all about JATO, Harvey.  It doesn't address the issues raised by your silly suggestion.  Now compare the fuel consumption and carbon emissions of a rocket capable of launching an aircraft to doing it the normal way, with the engine and propeller. Post your work here.


I always fancied a catapult based system, like on an aircraft carrier, but much longer, to avoid excess G loads.
With an electric aircraft, you could have a thing like a scalextric track where you could pick up electricity during your take off run.
Alternately, you could just have a power top off at the start of the take off run to eliminate the complexity of a "bussbar" or a catapult.

However, neither of these solve the problems of medium-long range aviation. If you take an ATR72, it can hold 5 tons of aviation fuel. If you take the energy density of this at 46 Mj/Kg, and the energy density of Li batteries of 0.7 Mj/Kg, you end up with a battery weight of 328 tons, 60x the weight of an AV gas equivalent.

Hence my original suggestion of a hybrid aircraft.
And Bob, the tips of turboprops do not go supersonic at takeoff (or any other time).

Except this one in the '50s...


Progressive evolution in aircraft design, props, e-motors, batteries, bio-fuel FCs is probably what will eventually contribute the most to future e-planes.

Small e-planes will probably fly by 2020/2025 with slightly improved existing technologies but it will not be enough for larger commercial units for local flights with up to 50 passengers.

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