New electric airplane sets world record for speed
During a flight that only lasted about eight minutes, the SkySpark managed to set a world record for the fastest speed attained by an electric airplane. The craft, piloted by astronaut (STS-75) Maurizo Cheli, achieved an airspeed of 155 mph (250 km/h) last week at the World Air Games in Turin, Italy. Specifically modified for the project, the battery-powered Pioneer Alpi 300 is thought to be capable of 186 mph (300 km/h).
In partnership with engineering firm Digisky and the Turin Polytechnic University, the plane has been in development since September of 2007 when successful flights of a fuel cell powered craft were completed. It is equipped with a liquid-cooled 65 kW Valentino synchronous motor by Sicme Motori that weighs in at 55 lbs (25 kg) and powered by lithium polymer batteries. The success of the flight is said by the SkySpark team's website to be only an intermediate goal. They will next re-visit their past and concentrate their efforts on a "hydrogen fuel cells powered engine." Although the sound is missing for the first minute and a half, when it does come on, you'll notice the inside of the plane is eerily quiet. Video from an earlier unveiling (in Italian) has some shots of the craft with the hood up
I can't get the Youtube imbedding to reliably work with these links. It might be a slow server someplace because even w/the direct links it sometimes takes a few seconds to start:
Unveiling (Italian Audio):
Record Flight for Electric Powered Aircraft - 250 km/hour
June 12, 2009 Ã¢â‚¬â€ A new electric-powered aircraft that flew for the first time on Wednesday, June 10, set whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s expected to be declared a new world record by flying at a speed of 250 kilometers/hour (155 mph) on Friday, June 12.
A specially built Pioneer Alpi 300 - powered by a 75kW electric motor using brushless technology and lithium polymer batteries - made an eight-minute flight at the World Air Games in Turin, Italy, reaching 250 km/hour as a top speed.
The SkySpark project, as it is named, is coordinated by DigiSky, an Italian engineering company specializing in research and development of technology for aeronautical applications, working in conjunction with Turin Polytechnic University. Projections are that the aircraft will be able to fly at approximately 300 km/hour.
The record flight was made by Maurizo Cheli, an experimental test pilot and the former Italian astronaut who flew on NASA shuttle mission STS 75. The Alpi 300 is one of several aircraft models built by Alpi Aviation srl of Pordenone, Italy.
To learn more about the SkySpark Project, visit http://www.SkySpark.eu