Hubris, thy name is Airbus. This morning, with no small amount of pomp, the giant European aircraft manufacturer flew its all-electric E-Fan 2.0 across the English Channel in an attempt to be the first to do so under battery-power. While the flight was successful, the campaign fell short. The Goliath appears to have met its David – who, in this case, goes by the name of Hugues Duval – on the way to its date with history. Instead of being the first, it had to settle for second. During the post-flight celebrations, however, the fact of its defeat went unmentioned.

Yesterday, Duval beat the big-budgeted effort to the Channel-crossing punch, making the trip in his trusty converted Colomban Cri-Cri, and landing at Saint-Inglevert Airfield, near Calais, at 7:42 PM local time. Already in possession of a permanent Permit to Fly, all he needed to do to make the trip was file a flight plan, something which was done with an amount of secrecy to prevent any possible interference.

As we told you yesterday, Pipistrel had intended to make a two-way crossing with its own Alpha Electro, but its plans were scuttled after Siemens, a partner of both Airbus and the Slovenian aircraft maker, suddenly put the kibosh on using it motor for the flight.

The Cri-Cri is a unique plane. It's wingspan is a mere 16 feet and it uses a 35-horsepower electric motor mounted on each side of the cabin to gain and hold altitude. It's said to be capable of flying for 25 minutes at 65 miles per hour, but it is a former air-speed record holder, once hitting the 175 mph mark. To get to England to start the journey, it piggybacked aboard a larger Broussard craft, detaching above Dover for the solo flight back.

While no doubt Airbus is disappointed its thunder has been stolen, it has concrete plans to continue its development of electric aircraft. Its subsidiary Voltair has been given the task of producing and selling the E-Fan 2.0 by 2017. There is also a larger E-Fan 4.0 under development which will be a four-seater.

You can watch at 2011 video of the all-electric Cri-Cri above.


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