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First electric plane crosses the Channel

Friday, July 10, 2015 - 01:42

The Airbus E-Fan becomes the first twin-engine electric plane to cross the English Channel after completing its maiden flight between Lydd in Kent and Calais in northern France. Mia Reakes reports.

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This is an aircraft with a difference. The Airbus E-Fan, an all-electric vehicle, preparing for its maiden voyage - across the Channel. After some last minute checks, it's off. With pilot and designer Didier Esteyne at the controls. (SOUNDBITE) (English) AIRBUS TEST PILOT, DIDIER ESTEYNE, SAYING: "Of course, there is a little bit of noise, but less than any other aeroplane first and also, there is no vibration at all. It's smooth and it's very quiet. That's very important. It's a pleasure to fly this plane. It feels more like a glider.'' It's the first time Airbus has flown a plane solely powered by batteries over water, from England to France. But would the general public willingly step onboard? (SOUNDBITE)(ENGLISH) HEAD OF GLOBAL INNOVATION NETWORK AIRBUS, PROFESSOR SIMON BRADLEY, SAYING: ''These days people use batteries in all the devices they have at home. They have batteries in their mobile phones, the batteries we are using today are standard lithium batteries. They are not anything strange. I think people will take it when it has been certified and when it has been proven to be safe.' Available to buy from 2017, this plane emits zero carbon emissions. It took just 18 months from an idea on a piece of paper to a fully-functioning aircraft. Engineers hope the technology could soon be introduced into standard planes as hybrids. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PROFESSOR IAN RISK, SAYING: ''What we really want to do is inspire both our suppliers and the wider industry to really start to adopt this technology and push it forward, but it's also about inspiring young people as well to meet the challenges of this technology and help us build the aircraft of the future." Touching down the other side. A small flight for Didier and the team. But the start of a bigger journey for the future of air travel.

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First electric plane crosses the Channel

Friday, July 10, 2015 - 01:42