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Manufacturers and researchers appear to be in agreement: The way to develop electric propulsion for aircraft is to start small. But with the pace at which technology is developing, electric-powered aircraft may not stay small very long.
In September 2010, EADS Innovation Works (IW) and Aero Composites Saintonge (ACS) flew a single-seat, 375-lb. Cri-Cri modified with four electric motors in place of its two 9-hp piston engines. By the end of this year, EADS IW and ACS plan to fly the E-Fan, a two-seat training aircraft purpose-designed around electric-powered ducted propellers.
The Cri-Cri and E-Fan are battery-powered, but in June 2011 EADS teamed with Siemens and Diamond Aircraft to fly the DA36 E-Star, an HK36 Super Dimona motor glider modified to test a hybrid-electric drive system. A year later, in June 2012, the team flew the improved E-Star 2 with an 80-kw (107-hp) serial-hybrid drive system based on a small Wankel engine, generator and batteries.
Closely related to this which I was too lazy to create a thread about a few months ago It's a long way away, but it's interesting.