New “all-electric” passenger plane takes to the skies

The cockpit of a new ATR 600-series aircraft
The cockpit of a new ATR 600-series aircraft

A new aircraft has taken to the skies which potentially paves the way for a new era of eco-friendly aviation.

The ATR 72 ‘All Electrical Aircraft’ (AEA) undertook a flying demonstration as part of the EU’s Clean Sky Joint Undertaking programme, with the aim of testing a new all-electrical energy management system.

An AEA is one in which all onboard systems are powered by electricity, including full ‘fly-by-wire’ flight controls.

Alessandro Amendola, ATR’s senior vice president of engineering, hailed “the outstanding work jointly carried out by teams at [ATR’s parent company] Finmeccanica and ATR in order to test the new all-electrical systems and further contribute to developing a greener version of regional aviation.

“Contributing to developing and deploying new technologies for the greener aviation of tomorrow is a key part of ATR’s identity,” he added.

While aircraft powered by electric engines may still be some way off, the new electric onboard systems, which replace their hydraulic and pneumatic predecessors, can result in lower fuel burn, emissions and maintenance costs.

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