Of all the industries that are dependent on fossil fuels, air travel stands to gain the most from finding a new power source. Jet fuel is expensive and translates directly to higher airfare prices. Airplane manufacturers are looking at everything from ethanol to solar in an effort to free themselves from the grasp of the oil barons. The maiden flight of a new aircraft, however, has added another hat to the ring: electric airplanes.
The Airbus E-Fan is an all-electric two-seater of an aircraft that really can get airborne entirely on battery power. The lithium-Ion batteries power a pair of electric engines that have a combined power of 60 KiloWatts. The aircraft is capable of staying aloft for only about an hour at a time and is the first of many planned iterations of the E-Fan technology. Version 2.0 will be an electric training aircraft for new pilots, while version 4.0 will feature a hybrid combustion/electric engine and will be capable of commercial flight.
Even in its current form, the E-Fan costs a lot less to operate than a traditional aircraft of the same size. Aboard the E-Fan, an hour in the open skies only costs about $19, compared to $55 for the typical aircraft. Over the lifetime of the E-Fan's development, Airbus is confident that it can not only save on costs, but can actually reduce carbon emissions for all new aircraft by 75 percent as well. Cheaper, quieter airfare that even saves the planet: yeah, we could be into that.