Electric Airplanes. Yes, That’s A Thing Now

Chip Yate's electric airplane

Electric airplanes are in the news. Yes, it’s true. There are many levels of development, and it’s all pretty exciting. This summer Boeing and Airbus jets at major US airports will be using electrically powered wheels when they move about the airport. Little guided motors will replace some of the tugs, gas-powered low slung vehicles, that used to push and pull the planes into the gates.

Emissions are a big problem in the skies from airliners. So they can’t run the plane when they get close to the terminal, then they’ll turn on the electric wheels. The US Military is ordering a big number of insect-drones, to be used for surveillance and maybe moving things like ammo to a battle. On the IEEE website, for electrical engineers there was a story about the Top 10 Electric Planes to watch.

The Antares is a new solar airplane that can soar with its tiny motor to 3000 feet, enabling it to glide up to 60 Kilometers. It has one seat, and it’s been flown across the US. You can buy it for about $300,000. There is a maker in Slovenia who offers a side by side electric powered glider and even a four-seater.

Airbus is in on the action too. They made a tiny electric airplane with a 12-foot wingspan called the Christaline, which was flown at 283 km per hour in the air! The big European plane maker is working on another small electric plane called the E-Fan.

Chip Yates is developing an electric flyer with a way to double the range–a drone would fly up next to the plane and hand off new batteries to keep it flying!