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Electric Four-Motor Cri-Cri Makes First Flight


September 9, 2010 — The all-electric Cri-Cri, the first-ever four-motor aerobatic plane, made its official maiden flight at Le Bourget airport near Paris last week (September 3). The mid-morning flight went smoothly, all systems performed well, and the pilot reported excellent maneuverability. While it was a great flight, it was quite short as the Cri-Cri returned for landing after seven minutes. The Cri-Cri is designed to cruise for 30 minutes at 59 knots, reach aerobatic speeds of 135 knots, and climb at 1,000 feet per minute.

“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 maneuvers only after five hours of flight and 15 landings.”

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 that deliver propulsion without CO2 emissions and significantly lower noise compared to thermal propulsion, and high energy-density lithium batteries.

“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’ 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 Cri-Cri was developed jointly by EADS Innovation Works, Aero Composites Saintonge, and the Green Cri-Cri Association. The flight was supported by the French Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace.

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