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Up in the air...in an all-electric plane

September 3, 2010 |  8:55 am

CriCri

The electric Cri-Cri airplane was airborne Thursday – for all of seven minutes.

The 4-engine aircraft, from Airbus parent corporation EADS, is the first of its kind. Its maiden flight took place at Le Bourget airport near Paris.

The flight was smooth, the company said, and quiet. The plane has lithium batteries and four electric prop motors that don’t emit carbon dioxide like standard aircraft.

The Cri-Cri is made relatively lightweight to compensate for the weight of the batteries, the company said. The plane is capable of 30 minutes of cruising at about 68 mph.

Next up: Perhaps an all-electric helicopter from Sikorsky Innovations? The technology development section of Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., based in Connecticut, announced its “Project Firefly” effort in late July, with an initial flight expected later this year.

Aircraft produce up to 4% of the annual global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels, according to NASA. But several airlines have recently said they intend to cut back on flight-related emissions, testing biofuels and developing more energy-efficient aircraft.

Several companies are also developing prototypes that use little or no fuel, relying instead on solar power, batteries, generators and natural buoyancy and gravity.

CriCri2
--Tiffany Hsu

Photo credit: EADS/Thomas Jullien

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