Airbus and its partners are revolutionising the future of flight by bringing the E-Fan into serial production.
Airbus and its partners seek to bring the advantages of electric aircraft into daily use – opening a future for aviation with fewer emissions, lower noise levels and higher operating efficiency.
The company has already signed agreements with its partners for the E-Fan programme’s industrialisation phase. Voltair SAS, a new 100% Airbus-owned company, will develop, build and offer services for the E-Fan 2.0 production version.
Airbus will invest €20 million in the overall design and development of the E-Fan 2.0 aircraft, in addition to contributions from Airbus’s partners. The consortium has been created in the framework of French government-backed projects for the country’s future industrialisation, called “La Nouvelle France Industrielle.”
An ‘intelligent’ factory for the future aircraft
Final assembly of E-Fan 2.0 will take place at a specially designed 1,500 square-metre facility in south-western France at Pau Pyrénées Airport.
The site is as unique as the all-electric aircraft itself. Innovative techniques used for E-Fan final assembly will serve to validate technologies and processes for potential applications across Airbus’s Divisions.
Among these intelligent concepts envisioned are:
- A compact assembly floor that reduces the distances covered during aircraft build-up
- The definition of processes with a focus on continuity, quality and control/management by assembly line operators
- The application of Lean production procedures that eliminate waste
Plugging the electric aircraft in to ‘Aerospace Valley’
The selection of Pau Pyrénées Airport places E-Fan’s final assembly site in France’s Aquitaine region, and within the country’s ‘Aerospace Valley.’
This technology cluster brings together extensive design, engineering, research and production resources of large-, medium- and small-sized companies, along with a range of other industrial and institutional partners.
Included in this region are Airbus’ facilities at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport; the Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrénées Airport site for Daher’s Airplane Business Unit, which is a partner for the E-Fan’s development, flight test and certification; and French start-up Powertrend Energy Conversion and eventually a subsidiary of Canada’s Hydro-Québec electrical group, both focused on new battery technologies for energy storage.
E-Fan serial production
Airbus will invest in, and construct, the E-Fan’s Pau assembly site, which will be leased to its wholly owned Voltair subsidiary responsible for the electric aircraft’s development, production, sales, delivery and customer support.
The E-Fan 2.0 production version is focused on users’ needs. The aircraft’s operating costs are pegged at one-third of traditional piston-engine light aircraft. A ground-based charging unit will be able to bring the aircraft batteries to their full flight endurance in 1.5 hours.
Voltair SAS is committed to working closely with airworthiness authorities on E-Fan’s certification, as this will be the first time an electric plane is approved for general aviation operations.