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Battery-powered plane beats Wright Flyer

Posted: 20 Jul 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:dry cell battery? aircraft? Matsushita? Tokyo Institute of Technology? Oxyride?

An experimental aircraft powered by dry cell batteries flew about a quarter of a mile near Tokyo, Japanfarther than the Wright Brothers' first flight with a gasoline engine.

The manned airplane flew at a maximum altitude of 5.2m on the outskirts of Tokyo last weekend. It stayed aloft for 391.4m, besting the distance of the first powered flight in 1903.

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd and the Tokyo Institute of Technology jointly developed the airplane using Oxyride dry cells as the power source.

Matsushita has been promoting dry cells as the third-generation battery technology after manganese and alkaline batteries. When it introduced Oxyride in January 2004, Matsushita also demonstrated that two batteries could power a car.

The experimental plane requires about 300W of power to fly. Its wingspan is 31m and weighs 44kg. A student pilot weighed 63kg. A total of 160 AA-sized Oxyride dry cell batteries powered the plane. Each weighed 23g. The plane took off and landed under its own power in almost windless conditions.

The flight was a Japanese record, and the research team said it is seeking official recognition from the Federation Aeronautique Internationale as the world's first manned flight powered by dry cell batteries.

- Yoshiko Hara
EE Times

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