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China Firm Sets For Electric Plane With 1,800 Mile Range

Chinese battery manufacturer Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (CATL) has provided a new update on its electric manned aircraft partnership project.

The company’s latest innovation could propel the electric aviation industry forward by providing an impressive range for 8-ton civil aircraft.

Speaking at the 15th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of the New Champions, CATL chairman Robin Zeng said the company’s new batteries are expected to support a range between 1,200-1,800 miles (2,000-3,000 kilometers) by 2027-2028.

A state-of-the-art electric aircraft battery

World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of the New Champions, also known as the Summer Davos Forum, kicked off on Tuesday, June 25, in Dalian, in China’s Liaoning province.

CATL has successfully flight-tested a 4-ton civil electric aircraft. It hopes to release an 8-ton civil electric aircraft by 2027, Zeng said. The latter model could have a range as high as 1,800 miles.

According to a report from China Daily, this is the first time the Chinese firm has revealed information about the range of its electric aircraft.

The company’s aircraft use its Condensed Battery, which it revealed in April 2023. The battery was specifically made for electric aviation. It has an energy density of up to 500 Wh/kg in a single cell. According to China Daily, that is twice the energy density of the average mainstream EV battery.

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The challenges of electric aviation

CATL’s work with electric aviation started with smaller aircraft, ranging from 1-8.8 tons. It is working alongside China’s state-owned aircraft manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China. The two formed a joint venture in July last year.

During the Summer Davos Forum, Zeng said CATL will have to successfully test aircraft in the 8-ton class and above to be able to commercialize its technology.

Electric aviation is known to be a big challenge, and many organizations have opted instead to use sustainable aviation fuels. These can require engine modifications, but they are more reliable than electric aircraft, which have so far required incredibly powerful batteries.

Last year, for example, NASA canceled its X-57 electric aircraft project without having flown its experimental electric plane. The US space agency has stated that the X-57 project has provided a wealth of useful data for electric aviation manufacturers. However, safety concerns related to their electric engine prevented them from conducting a flight test using the X-57 aircraft.

Although CATL is confident in its ability to provide aircraft with a range of 1,200-1,800 miles, it has yet to demonstrate this in actual flight tests.

Source: IE

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