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The all-electric Cri-Cri is back at Le Bourget

The all electric Cri-Cri, jointly developed by EADS Innovation Works, Aero Composites Saintonge and the Green Cri-Cri Association will be displayed and flown at this year's Paris Air Show at Le Bourget. In September 2010, the world first four-engine all-electric aerobatic plane took off for its maiden flight from the airport near Paris, which hosts the international aviation event every two years.

Since the first flight, the team has carried out an extensive test flight programme. Cri Cri has performed more than nine hours of flight, including aerobatic manoeuvres. "In all-electric mode, the plane's performance during climb and aerobatics is better compared to a conventional aircraft of this type," said Emmanuel Joubert, Programme Head All-electric Cri-Cri at EADS. "This allows the pilot to really have 'fun flying' – with no noise and high torque at low and high speed."

During the testing campaign, improvements of the system could be achieved mainly in the field of energy management. One important aim is to increase endurance of the flight. Time has been already increased from 20 minutes at the beginning to 30 minutes. Further improvements should bring it to at least 35 minutes. In parallel, EADS' in-house simulation tools dedicated to electrical and hybrid propulsion could be further improved in the course of the test flights.

"The Cri-Cri is the smallest aircraft in the world" said Joubert. "All innovative concepts and technologies applied in this platform need to be downscaled to a very small size and very light weight, which leads researchers to be very creative."

The Cri-Cri is a low-cost test bed for system integration of electrical technologies. EADS hopes to receive a lot of useful information out of this project. In the near future batteries will not able to propel larger aircraft, but in the longer perspective, electric propulsion will be a way to fly without emissions and the need for liquid fuels. This is why EADS is involved in several research and technology programmes related to electric flight. At Le Bourget, EADS is presenting VoltAir, an all-electric propulsion system concept for the air traffic of the future. Airbus is supporting eGenius, a technology demonstrator with a 60kW propulsion system, developed by the Institute of Aircraft Design at the University of Stuttgart. EADS is also member of the team which recently launched the DA36 E-Star, a serial hybrid version of the Diamond DA36.

The electric Cri-Cri incorporates numerous innovative technologies such as lightweight composite structures that reduce the weight of the airframe and compensate for the additional weight of the batteries, four brushless electric motors with counter-rotating propellers which deliver propulsion without CO2 emissions and significantly lower noise compared to thermal propulsion, and high energy-density Lithium batteries.

The combined utilisation of these environmentally friendly technical innovations enables the Cri-Cri to deliver novel performance: 30 minutes of autonomous cruise flight at 110 km/h, 15 minutes of autonomous aerobatics at speeds reaching up to 250 km/h, and a climb rate of approximately 5.3 m/sec.

The all-electric Cri Cri is flying six minutes per day during the Paris air show, carrying out aerobatic flight manoeuvres. In August, the aircraft will attend the MAKS Air Show in Zhukovski near Moscow.

Press release issued by Airbus Group Innovations on June 23, 2011


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