Siemens electric motor sets aviation record

The Extra 330LE aerobatic plane has set new speed records with its propulsion system from Siemens. It is also the world’s first electric aircraft to tow a glider into the sky.

Siemens has set a world record with its new electric motor. Installed in the Extra 330LE aerobatic plane, the Siemens propulsion system powered the aircraft over a distance of three kilometres at a top speed of 337.50 kilometres per hour (km/h).

The electric aircraft was 13.48 km/h faster than the previous record set by US pilot William M. Yates in 2013. The new record was officially recognised by the World Air Sports Federal (FAI), according to a Siemens statement.

The Extra 330LE gave another premiere performance when it became the world’s first electric aircraft to tow a glider into the sky. It took a type LS8-neo glider up to a hight of 600 metres in just 76 seconds.

The new propulsion system from Siemens completed its maiden flight in July 2016, and has been setting records ever since. Weighing just 50 kilograms, it supplies a constant electric output of 260 kilowatts – five times more than comparable propulsion systems.

The Extra 330LE serves as the flying test bed for the new propulsion system, and there are currently no plans for series production of the electric plane. However, Siemens is contributing this technology to its joint project with Airbus to develop a hybrid-electrical regional aircraft.

“By 2030, we expect to see the first planes carrying up to 100 passengers and having a range of about 1,000 kilometres,” said Frank Anton, head of eAircraft at the Siemens venture capital until next47.

Siemens is committed to pursue hybrid-electric propulsion systems for aircraft as a future area of business.

Image credit: Jean-Marie Urlacher

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