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Airbus makes historic all-electric flight across English Channel

Airbus E-Fan electric aircraftAirbus E-Fan electric aircraft
The Airbus E-Fan electric aircraft prepares for an aerial display during the 51st international Paris Air Show at Le Bourget, near Paris, France on June 17, 2015.Anadolu Agency Getty Images

French aircraft manufacturer Airbus completed its first all-electric flight over the English Channel Friday morning in an experimental plane known as the “E-Fan.”

The 46-mile crossing began in Lydd, England and ended in Calais, France after about 37 minutes, according to Airbus. The test pilot, Didier Esteyne, flew the aircraft at about 3,500 feet above the Channel.

Airbus is using the E-Fan aircraft, which uses lithium batteries, to explore the future possibilities of flight powered by alternative energy. “Using hybrid electrical propulsion, the electric aircraft E-Fan will be the aircraft of the future,” reads Airbus’ website. The company is working on rolling out two- and four-seater versions of the E-Fan for pilot training and general aviation over the next few years.

Still, Airbus may not be able to claim the E-Fan was the first-ever electric aircraft to make the English Channel crossing. A Frenchman by the name of Hugues Duval claims to have made the crossing in a different electric plane just hours before Airbus’ attempt, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Meanwhile, a Swiss team is about midway through what would be a historic round-the-world flight in a solar-powered aircraft, the Solar Impulse 2.