Why we write about this topic:

Flying is harmful to the environment because of high COemissions. It is therefore important to design and manufacture cleaner aircraft, which these students have done successfully by making a fully electric plane.

A student team at ETH Zurich has successfully constructed a four-seater electric aircraft with a modular battery called e-Sling. The vehicle has now taken flight for the first time, says the university in a press release.

For two years, a team of around twenty ETH students worked tirelessly in a hangar in the Innovation Park in Dübendorf. Their ambitious goal: is to construct a light aircraft that is entirely battery-powered. “Flying harms the environment. But there are still no good alternatives to aircraft powered by kerosene,” says Anna Thumann, a mechanical engineering student who has been involved in the project from the start. “As a team, we’re motivated by the goal of contributing to a more sustainable air industry.”

Modular battery

In addition to an efficient electric engine, the students developed a modular battery system with a special cooling system. The biggest challenge was achieving the required energy density for the battery while keeping it as lightweight as possible; when it comes to flight, every gram counts. So that they didn’t have to come up with an entire aircraft design alongside the complex drive system, they made use of an existing design: a kind of construction kit for light aircraft from the South African aircraft manufacturer Sling Aircraft served the students as a shell. After a few adjustments, they built it themselves and fitted out the aircraft with their technology.

e-Sling is the first electric aircraft to be equipped with a modular battery system. This means that the batteries can be exchanged during a stopover – although in practice this currently takes some time.  In future, uses for the quiet aircraft could include monitoring national parks without disturbing the animals. e-Sling currently has a range of around 180 km.

Watch the e-Sling take flight. The first electric aircraft with a modular battery system.

Selected for you!

Innovation Origins is the European platform for innovation news. In addition to the many reports from our own editors in 15 European countries, we select the most important press releases from reliable sources. This way you can stay up to date on what is happening in the world of innovation. Are you or do you know an organization that should not be missing from our list of selected sources? Then report to our editorial team.