SkySpark Electric Aircraft Breaks Speed Record

Earlier this month at the World Air Games 2009 in Turin, pilot Maurizio Cheli broke the speed record for a 100% electrically powered aircraft, piloting the SkySpark (a modified Pioneer Alpi 300) to 250 km/h (155 mph) using a 75-kW electric brushless motor fed by a lithium polymer battery pack.

Pilot Maurizio Cheli, SkySpark team leader, is a retired Lieutenant Colonel with the Italian Air Force and an Astronaut with the European Space Agency.

As someone who hates to fly, what I like most about the SkySpark project is the absence of highly flammable jet fuel. In controlled crashes where survival is at least possible, what gets us? Smoke and fire from jet fuel. The SkySpark presents no such hazard.

... but I can't begin to imagine the electric power necessary to drive a large commercial jet loaded with passengers. Just doesn't seem conceivable with the current technologies.

Next up for the team is flight via a hydrogen fuel cell. Either way you get the feeling that mass transportation by air will be the last segment of the industry to turn even the most remote shade of green.

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