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Fully electric plane developed by Swiss students takes to the skies

Fully electric plane developed by Swiss students takes to the skies

A fully electric plane built by Swiss students from ETH Zurich has completed its maiden flight. The four-seater e-Sling plane has a range of around 180 kilometres and can fly for around one hour. 

Bachelor’s degree project to build an electric plane

For the past two years, the students worked on the plane as part of their Bachelor’s degree. The aircraft was assembled and built at the Dübendorf innovation park near Zurich, and the plane eventually took to the skies from Dübendorf Airport for the first time at the end of September. The plane completed seven planned test flights on its first day in the sky. 

The plane was built by 20 mechanical engineering students, hoping to advance the development of electric planes. “Being able to construct an aircraft during your studies and then actually see it flying is an indescribable feeling,” mechanical engineering student Maurice Kaulich said in a press release by ETH Zurich. 

Electric plane being built in Zurich

Electric planes under development in Switzerland

The plane's parts were made by the South African kit aircraft manufacturer Sling Aircraft, giving the aircraft the name “e-Sling”. The aircraft’s developers designed the plane to use modular batteries that can be swapped out during a layover, extending the plane’s flight time if needed.  

The students are not the only researchers attempting to tackle electric planes, though. Several international companies in Switzerland are hoping to break into the market and compete with top aerospace companies such as Airbus and Boeing. There are a number of alternatives also being considered such as using hydrogen, electric propulsion and battery systems. 

Video: ETH Zürich / YouTube

Images and thumb: Marc Bührer via Cellsius

Emily Proctor

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Emily Proctor

Emily studied International Relations and Chinese, and is now undertaking Master's degree in International Security. She enjoys writing, cooking, and playing piano.

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