E-Fan Channel crossingHistory maker!

E-Fan-English-Channel-crossing

Airbus’ E-Fan technology demonstrator has become the world’s first all-electric twin-engine aircraft to successfully cross the English Channel, some 106 years after Louis Blériot’s epic flight.

The potential of electric aviation

At 11am on a calm, sunny summer morning, the Airbus E-Fan touched down in Calais to enter its name in the record books. The all-electric plane became the first twin-engine electric plane to negotiate the English Channel, more than 100 years after Louis Blériot had first made the intrepid journey.

E-Fan's flight follows the pioneering steps of Louis Blériot's original Channel crossing.

Travelling in the opposite direction to the pioneering Frenchman and powered by lithium-ion batteries, the E-Fan took off from Lydd on the English south coast, completing the 74 kilometre flight east to Calais, France, in around 40 minutes. Flown by test pilot Didier Esteyne, the all-electric plane weighs around 600 kilogrammes and travelled at an altitude of about 1000 metres (3500 feet).

After E-Fan’s 100th flight, which occurred at the 2015 Paris Air Show, the Channel Crossing is yet another milestone for the all-electric aircraft technology demonstrator
Visit wemakeitfly.airbusgroup.com to watch the live broadcast of the crossing.

Follow E-Fan’s flight live!

Take-off is scheduled for 10 July, 10:15am CET (09:15am local time in the UK). We’ll be bringing you a live stream of the E-Fan’s flight, as well as interviews with engineers and project partners in Calais to offer fascinating expert insights into the technology behind this all-electric plane.

You can be a part of this historic event and become the pilot of a socially-powered E-Fan, which will 'take flight' virtually alongside the real aircraft. Visit wemakeitfly.airbusgroup.com to help charge the E-Fan’s batteries by shaking your mobile device or clicking on your mouse from your desktop. Charge the battery daily to gain access to new information and tweet using the hashtag #wemakeitfly. On the day of the flight, you'll see your tweet appear as you pilot the social E-Fan!

What you need to know

  • Route: Lydd to Calais
  • Take-off: Morning of 10 July, approximately 10:15am CET
  • Live stream: wemakeitfly.airbusgroup.com
  • Flight time: approximately 45 minutes

The E-Fan project, and flights like the Channel crossing, show that the pioneering spirit and ingenuity demonstrated by Louis Blériot and the other early aviators is still alive today.

Jean BottiAirbus’ Chief Technical Officer
In 1909, the first heavier-than-air aircraft – a Blériot XI piloted by Louis Blériot – crossed the English Channel.
The path of 2 pioneers: E-Fan's cross-Channel journey could herald a new era of electric aviation, just like Louis Blériot's first Channel flight in 1909 helped launch the French aviation industry.

Pioneering spirit lives on

While the E-Fan’s journey will demonstrate the possibilities of electric propulsion for future aircraft, it is also an homage to Louis Blériot, one of the all-time greats of aviation.

In 1909, the English Channel had already been crossed by balloon, but just six years after the Wright brothers’ first flight few people expected someone to make the trip by plane. Indeed, the Daily Mail newspaper offered £1,000 prize to the first person to make the 37 km. crossing.

Frenchman Louis Blériot was a pioneering in the early days of aviation.

A passionate inventor and engineer, Blériot believed his Blériot XI monoplane was up to the task. On the morning of 25 July, the Frenchman set out from Calais, flying at 70 km./h, 70 metres above the water.

Like so many others in aviation industry Louis Blériot has been a hero and inspiration to me and it gives me great pride that I am able to honour his legacy with the first ever electric-powered Channel crossing.

Didier EsteyneE-Fan’s test pilot and designer

Blériot overcame poor visibility and gusting winds to land close to Dover Castle. Almost overnight, Blériot was a star and his record-breaking aircraft became the first to enter mass production, launching the French aviation industry. His company was based in Suresnes, near Paris, at the same site where part of the E-Fan team is now located.

Bleirot-XI-LARGE
E-Fan's historic flight is to be performed in the reverse direction of Louis Bleriot's landmark crossing on July 25, 1909 with a Blériot XI aircraft.

The path to electric flight

Since its first flight in April 2014, the E-Fan team has constantly been working to improve the technology on-board. At the 2015 Paris Air Show in June, Airbus highlighted the continuous enhancements made to E-Fan in just over a year and a half, which have resulted in increased battery capacity, reduced weight and a new retractable landing gear.

These are highly valuable stepping stones on Airbus’s path towards electrical aviation, which would drastically reduce noise pollution and emissions. The company is already working on the E-Fan 2.0, an electric two-seater aimed at pilot training, which will be followed by the E-Fan 4.0 four-seat airplane for full pilot licensing and the general aviation market. Construction on a final assembly line to industrialise these aircraft will begin during 2016 in Pau, France.

Partners in crossing the Channel

E-Fan company partners