A German aircraft has accomplished the first-ever battery-powered flight over the Alps. The hi-tech plane had to cover a distance of 320 kilometres and climb to an altitude of 4000 metres in order to safely fly over Swiss peaks.
The e-Genius electric aircraft completed its maiden flight in 2011 and is a part of a test flight programme of the University of Stuttgart. According to a statement released by the university on Tuesday, it took off on July 4 from the Hahnweide airfield near Stuttgart and flew over the Swiss Alps to reach the north-Italian airfield of Calcinate del Pesce - a remarkable achievement that was overshadowed by the record-breaking journey of the Swiss solar airplane Solar Impulse 2 a day earlier.
Covering 320 kilometers it reached its destination in a little over two hours and returned back to Germany after recharging the batteries. The return flight was even longer at 365 kilometres because of the steepness of the Swiss Alps in that direction. A route through the Gotthard pass was chosen to ensure the aircraft had enough time to climb the high summits on the return leg.
Weighing just 850 kilograms and with a wingspan of almost 17 metres, the plane used the equivalent of a mere 83 kWH – costing €21 (CHF22) based on current German electricity rates - to complete the challenge.