I have read a lot of answers on batteries powering large commercial jets, and how it won't work. However, for a small jet like the Honda jet, would it be possible for it to be powered completely by batteries?

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    $\begingroup$ Well, if all you want is to taxi around and maybe do a short traffic pattern, then yes. For any practical useabilty: The answer is no. $\endgroup$ – Peter Kämpf Jul 26 '18 at 14:51

On some scale, of course this works -- look up "EDF", Electric Ducted Fan R/C models of jet planes. For something the size of a Honda Jet, you still likely wouldn't get the performance (and certainly not the range) that you might desire. Go smaller, and something in the size range of a BD-5J/Acrojet, which originally flew on a very small engine, might support being converted to an EDF -- though the flight endurance would likely still be very short.

EDF would be suitable for a motor glider or self-launch sailplane, neither of which depend heavily on long power endurance for normal operation (but neither of which are expected to fly hundreds or thousands of miles at hundreds of miles per hour, like a Honda Jet).

  • $\begingroup$ I think we're getting into a matter of definitions here. Is a ducted fan a "jet", or is it simply a propellor with a shroud around it? $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jul 26 '18 at 16:57
  • $\begingroup$ Same could be said of a turbofan -- effectively a shaft turbine turning a ducted fan, but we call them "jet engines" colloquially. $\endgroup$ – Zeiss Ikon Jul 26 '18 at 16:59

Is it possible to power a very small jet using batteries?

Yes, with some major provisos.


It is misleading to use the word "jet" because a jet engine requires combustion of hydrocarbon fuel to create heat to expand exhaust gasses to drive a compressor and produce direct thrust and/or to power a bypass fan. An electric powered aircraft engine would most likely just use electric power to directly drive a ducted fan.

E-Fan engine

Photo by Varmin CC BY-SA 3.0


The Airbus E-Fan prototype first flew in 2014 and was the "first all-electric two-engine aircraft" to cross the English channel. I don't know what it's range was but assume it was very short. I think 2 hours was expected for later versions but the project seems to be cancelled.

The motors moving the fans are powered by a series of 250-volt Lithium polymer battery packs

These were described by Airbus as Li-Ion 18650 cells with a total battery weight of 167 kg

These battery packs have an energy density of 207 Wh/kg which is 0.745 MJ/kg

By comparison aviation kerosene has an energy density of 46.36 MJ/kg


Airbus seem to be working on an "E-Fan X" hybrid aircraft

E-Fan X concept
Image from Airbus press-release

The E-Fan X hybrid-electric technology demonstrator is anticipated to fly in 2020 following a comprehensive ground test campaign, provisionally on a BAe 146 flying testbed, with one of the aircraft’s four gas turbine engines replaced by a two megawatt electric motor. Provisions will be made to replace a second gas turbine with an electric motor once system maturity has been proven.

This uses a two megawatt generator to power the ducted fan. So the power source, or more accurately energy reservoir, is hydrocarbon fuel, not batteries.

The purpose of this aircraft is to develop electric propulsion technology, it isn't a prototype passenger transport.


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