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5 January 2018

China’s first electric plane can fly for up to 2 hours

The first Chinese two-seater trainer plane is now able to fly for two hours emissions-free offering another revolutionary development to the air travel industry and providing valuable lessons for scaling up the technology.

The RX1E-A airplane was constructed by the Shenyang Aerospace University. It was first unveiled in 2015 initially having a flight range of 45 minutes. However, after the latest updates, it can now fly for up to 2 hours merely with battery power.

The test flight took place at the Caihu airport in the Chinese city of Shenyang in Liaoning province. After the endeavour was successful, it was announced that a larger four-seater version would be developed.

Zou Haining, Deputy Head of Liaoning General Aviation Academy, celebrated the new technological achievement as the extended range will help promote such electric planes in the US and European markets.

He said: “We believe there’s a big demand for that type of electric plane, which can carry a bigger load on longer flights. It would transport both people and goods”. “And we will continue to improve the performance of electric planes”.

The original RX1E with the 45 flight range started development in 2012 and went into mass production in 2016. This means that the larger 4-seat version could take less than three years, given the technological advancements and the accumulated experience.

Eligible markets for such planes include pilot training centres, short-range transportation, tourism and local government services.

The advantages that the electric trainer planes offer are not limited to zero-emissions travel. The most important perk is that they have cheaper running and fuel costs as each flight per hour is said to cost a mere $1.45 according to Xiang Song, one of the designers of the new model.

In case of emergency, the plane is equipped with an integrated parachute to secure safe landing for both the pilot and the plane. 

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