China Plans Electric Airliner Using New Battery Technology


China is charging ahead with an electric aircraft program and it may have a leg up on the competition because of an emerging battery design. Although they haven’t come up with a production model, Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd., a huge EV battery maker, claims to have been working on a solid state battery that stores up to 500 Wh/kg. That’s roughly twice the density of the best available batteries currently in production.

A joint venture between the battery developer, the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) and Shanghai Jiaotong University aims to harness all that power and perhaps develop a viable electric airliner. Of course all of these entities are controlled by the Chinese government and the initial budget for the research work is about $80 million. No timelines have been set.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. They, (couple of big car makers) promised France in 2020, that there will new solid state batteries by 2024 … Clock is ticking.
    Difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff but it does not look like it will happen now.
    And when Chinese companies do not have someone to copy, their R&D timelines look normal.

  2. Doubling energy density is a big step, but still leaves practical electric flight in the niche category. A significant plus for ground vehicles though.

  3. Their electric cars are exploding and catching fire like Christmas tree, imagine what is going to happen pushing forward into the aircraft industry LOL “500 Mwh/kg” sure! why not? LOL

  4. Doubling current battery capacity should make a nice electric trainer aircraft with limited cross-country capabilities. Not sure about a larger transport aircraft. And, the other “gorilla” in the room is how long it takes to recharge.

    • High speed charging is one of the benefits of solid state batteries – I’ve seen estimates of 80%+ charge in 15 to 30 minutes, for an automotive sized battery.

      [Along with much better longevity.]

  5. They should forget about the airliners. If they truly have a better battery, they can afford to buy an airbus fleet.