In an interesting application which shows the diverse ways in which RACOM support ground breaking technologies, RipEX units are supporting the Airbus group with the development and testing of their electric aircraft, E-Fan, creating a bold new era in powered flight by bringing the advantage of electric aircraft into daily use.
As part of development and testing, a landmark was reached in July 2015 when the E-Fan aircraft successfully made a crossing of the English Channel; 106 years after Bleriot made the first successful powered crossing. A morning takeoff from the English coast saw the E-Fan reach a cruising altitude of 3,500 ft. in a bright cloudless sky. From takeoff at Lydd Airport to touchdown at Calais-Dunkerque Airport in France, the all-electric E-Fan demonstrator completed its 74 km crossing in 38 minutes.
To support the essential need for reliable transmission of telemetry data from the E-Fan, the Airbus group elected to use RipEX units to optimize the performance of this crucial role.
A static RipEX unit was positioned at each airport, one inside the E-Fan to send the telemetry data and a fourth in the plane that accompanied the record making attempt. This allowed the team to secure communication with two links simultaneously; one static and one mobile. Communication with the static units switched mid-flight from the radio in England to the RipEX unit at the airport in France. Large amounts of data were transmitted during the flight.
“Although I was alone in the cockpit, there were many people ‘flying’ with me today in this great success,” said Didier Esteyne, Aero Composites Saintonge’s E-Fan designer and test pilot. “It was the result of a fantastic team effort that brought much passion and the will to achieve.”
The E-Fan had already made more than 100 flights; preparations for this very special trip were extensive and included a dedicated test and verification programme, put together by French flight authorities, Airbus Group and its partners. During these flights Airbus were able to communicate between the airborne RipEX units over distances in excess of 35km using a tiny 10cm antenna on both planes.
“We are delighted that RipEX units play a vital role in obtaining certification which is of crucial importance for the future of safe, reliable and certifiable electric flight.” said Pavel Pejchal, head of RACOM’s Product management team.