News - June 26, 2019

H55, a spin-off from Solar Impulse, sets a new milestone for electric aviation

 H55 Electric Flight Trainer
- Photo by H55 Electric Flight Trainer © H55/ Anna Pizzolante

Written by Tristan Lebleu 4 min read

This two-seater electric plane, co-founded by Solar Impulse's Co-Founder, CEO and pilot André Borschberg, is a perfect example of how new technologies can help us transition to sustainability.

Updated on December, 05th, 2019

On Friday, June 21st, a small airplane, the Bristell Energic, flies over the Swiss city of Sion. While the aircraft has nothing particular from the outside and resembles the dozens of jets who fly over the Swiss Alps everyday, this one could actually be a revolution in aviation. 

Manufactured by BRM Aero, the Bristell Energic is entirely powered by an electric propulsion system built by H55, a Member of the World Alliance for Efficient Solutions.

The Electric Propulsion System, EPS55, is fully certified (FOCA, EASA, FAR) and is designed to maximise and optimise the use of battery technologies for electric powered aeroplanes. EPS55 proprietary systems replace the conventional fuel-powered aircraft engine with a battery-powered system that aims to eliminate carbon emissions while offering a cleaner (zero GHG emissions), quieter (noise levels less than 55dB), and cost-effective alternative to current propulsion systems for small aeroplanes.

H55, a Swiss company, was founded by Solar Impulse’s Co-Founder, pilot and CEO, André Borschberg, with Sébastien Demont and Gregory Blatt, also part of the former Solar Impulse senior management team, following the success of the round-the-world flight.

The Bristell Energic is a fully electric two-seater aircraft, perfectly suited for pilot training and flight schools. It can fly for up to 90 minutes without using a single drop of fuel, and has the huge advantage of being clean, quiet, cost efficient and safe. It is equipped with a pair of 50kWh battery pack, which charge in about an hour, and has similar specifications to its fuel counterparts. According to H55’s recent press release, the Bristell Energic “has received considerable interest from flight schools, airport resident associations and aviation authorities”.

In terms of CO2 reduction, the electric airplane can save up to 250 kg CO2eq per hour of flying. And at a much cheaper cost, as flying  with electrical energy costs €6.34 per hour of flight, compared to today's €160-220 with traditional fuel.

After completing its first successful flight in June, André Borschberg, H55’s Co-Founder and Executive Chairman, commented that “electric air transport will deeply transform and improve urban mobility. Electric propulsion has enabled the world of drones, it will do the same for aviation. The Bristell Energic is a stepping-stone for the development of such new aviation transport solutions, where the challenge will be safety and certification. By having our electric airplanes fly and monitoring their performance, H55 will continue to build up big data essential for the development of VTOLs and flying taxis”.

Accounting for approximately 2-3% of global CO2 emissions, diverting aviation from fossil fuels is indeed a major challenge for the planet, as well as for the industry itself. With growing concern over environmental impact of airplanes, people are getting more reluctant to jump on a plane for short distances, the phenomenon now even has its own name: “the shame of flying”. So everyone is eager to see electric aircrafts ready for take-off. There are approximately 170 electric aircraft projects in development, a number which has increased by 50% over the past year, according to Roland Berger. It is therefore no surprise that H55’s launch received such a big media attention media with dozens of articles.

While the Bristell Energic reaches the sky, the Solar Impulse Foundation continues its mission to select, label and support clean and profitable technological solutions to protect the environment, both proving that the legacy of Solar Impulse is still at full blast two years after the solar airplane's final landing.


Written by Tristan Lebleu on June 26, 2019

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