Are ‘electric airlines’ the future of flying?

Researchers at the University of Cambridge have successfully tested the world’s first hybrid electric aeroplane that is able to recharge its batteries whilst flying. The aeroplane uses a four stroke […]

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By Taryn Nixon

Researchers at the University of Cambridge have successfully tested the world’s first hybrid electric aeroplane that is able to recharge its batteries whilst flying.

The aeroplane uses a four stroke piston engine and an electric motor that works together during take-off and climb when maximum power is required. Once the plane is at cruising height the electric motor’s battery can be recharged or used to assist the engines to lower fuel use.

Dr Paul Robertson of Cambridge’s Engineering Department, who led the project said: “Although hybrid cars have been available for more than a decade, what’s been holding back the development of hybrid or fully-electric aircraft until now is battery technology.”

The test aircraft uses 30% less fuel and is based on a commercially-available single-seat aircraft.