Hybrid electric plane sets a record of 12 hours of continuous flight

USAThe Electric EEL plane traveled more than 2,200 km above California and landed with more than 2 hours of fuel and battery reserve remaining.

Electric EEL hybrid electric plane sets a 12-hour flight record. Photo: Ampaire

American startup Ampaire reached an impressive milestone when the Electric EEL demonstration aircraft completed a 12-hour endurance flight in Camarillo, California, on December 10. Ampaire said the flight surpassed previous records for flight time for hybrid electric aircraft - hybrid aircraft that use a combination of electricity and fuel. Besides, Electric EEL also surprised onlookers by still having more than 2 hours of fuel and battery reserve. The vehicle flew approximately 2,213 km during the trip, including simple loops above the Camarillo airport.

The potential of hybrid vehicles in the air could be almost as great as hybrid vehicles on the ground. The first generation intelligent hybrid powertrain in the Electric Eel demonstrator reduces fuel consumption by 50% - 70%, Ampaire said.

Unlike ground vehicles, where the benefits of regenerative braking are more evident, Ampaire's aircraft use smaller and more efficient internal combustion engines with electric assist for quick take-off and landing or acceleration. Electric EEL's unique powertrain configuration, with separate rotors for the electric drive systems and the internal combustion engine, makes regenerative air braking possible. This not only increases efficiency but also helps recover energy during deceleration.

Ampaire expects that the next generation of Electric EEL will allow the hybrid propulsion system to power both the rear and nose propellers. This will facilitate in-flight battery charging thanks to the gasoline engine. This innovation is expected to increase operational flexibility, reducing the need for frequent recharging.

Although still in the demonstration and validation phase, Electric EEL has proven its value by burning significantly less fuel than traditional aircraft and reducing maintenance costs by approximately 25% - 50%. With its latest flight time record, Ampaire's hybrid electric aircraft is poised to contribute to addressing range and flight time challenges in the aviation industry, moving towards a more sustainable future.

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