Why battery-powered aircraft will never have significant range


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Dan Thomas

Well-Known Member
Sep 17, 2008
Obviously a Caravan sized airplane is to small for a 4-5 pax electric. It may be better as a 1 to 2 person total, or get a bigger airframe for the 1-2 people.

If it has to be electric, then it is going to have to be very large and very expensive. But if electric is your only choice then what are you going to do?

To carry passengers you need to think Blimp sized.
The Grand Caravan that was converted has a normal capacity of 10 to 14 seats. 4-5 people is a really poor return for the size and weight of the airplane. Sure, the electricity is cheap, but what of the batteries?

The other thing noted in the articles on this testing was that it was climbed to only 2500 feet. Fine at sea-level ops, not so fine in mountainous terrain. Climbing consumes a lot of power, shortening range.

Electric isn't the only choice yet. If it does become so, it will be politically-driven, not scientifically motivated. Not based on real data, at least.


Well-Known Member
Oct 8, 2013
Letohrad / Czech Republic
In my opinion is not really a way to convert "old" airplanes with high performance combustion engines to electric airplanes. Fuel (MOGAS, AVGAS, JET A1 etc.) has really very high energy density in compare with actual generation of batteries. That is fact we have to accept. At time when most of GA airplanes were deigned was not really necessary to think about efficiency. Power has been easily available. And price of fuel was not an issue.
Funny example - fuel tanks of big airliners are designed for tons of fuel, but they cannot land with full fuel tanks. 747-8 can take 63 000 gallons of fuel = 422 000 lb (190 tons). Info from here. It could be over 50 000 kWh (calculating with 265 Wh / kg) = a lot of batteries, but no landing possible :cool:
In last decade was economy (lower fuel consumption, efficiancy) more and more important, however we are still too "conservative".
GA electric airplanes should be designed as electric from beginning.
For example this is study of four seater done by boys from e-Genius team.
According to technological stage of batteries (or other energy sources like hydrogen) we have to design airplanes focused on maximum efficiency and as light as possible (so probably from composite materials)...

...or maybe we will find out that except sport and "small" aviation (4-6 seaters) we have to use fuel till is available (who knows what the real reserves are) ;)