CATL completes test flight with an electric aircraft

Chinese battery manufacturer CATL is making progress in the development of electric aeroplanes, according to CEO Robin Zeng. The company has successfully completed a test flight with a four-tonne electric aircraft and is aiming for a range of up to 3,000 kilometres in the coming years.

Image: Screenshot of a CATL video in 2023

The four-tonne electric aircraft, for which no further details are given, is said to be a test carrier. However, during his appearance at the “New Champions” meeting of the World Economic Forum in Dalian, Zeng is said to have announced that an eight-tonne version with a range of around 2,000 to 3,000 kilometres is to be realised by 2027 or 2028. This electric aircraft will then also be launched on the market. According to the Chinese media, this is the first time that CATL has stated the range of its planned electric aircraft.

CATL is cooperating with the state-owned aircraft manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) in the development of electric aircraft and is using its ‘Condensed Battery’ with an energy density of up to 500 Wh/kg. CATL presented this ‘Condensed Battery’ in April 2023 and already considered the prospect of its use in electric aircraft at that time. In principle, the technology is also suitable for road-bound electric vehicles.

During his appearance in Dalian, Zeng probably also announced that his company is also working on a new generation of sodium-ion batteries – not for electric aircraft. This is expected to be launched on the market as early as 2025 and will perform better than the current Na-ion cell generation in terms of cost, service life and, above all, performance at low temperatures. Although Zeng did not give exact figures for the improvements in the three areas mentioned, he believes that sodium battery technology is already very mature: the publication China Daily writes that the sodium-ion project is already at level 7 on a scale of 1 to 10. (in Chinese),


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