First electric plane flies over English Channel

CALAIS: A French pilot has flown across the English Channel in an electric-powered plane, a journey considered an important symbolic step toward making electric flight viable in the long term.

Pilot Hugues Duval flew from the French port of Calais to the English shoreline and back Thursday night on a two-engine, one-seat Cricri plane — just hours before Airbus planned a similar, higher-profile journey.

Airbus is planning to send its electric plane prototype, the two-seater E-Fan, on Friday morning across the Channel for the first time, from Kent to Calais.

Duval told The Associated Press that his successful flight was a "relief" and an "important moment" after years of developing the plane and flying it over land.

Several companies in different countries are trying to develop electric planes in hopes of offering a fuel-free and emissions-free flight alternative for the future.

In 1909, French pilot Louis Bleriot was the first person to fly a plane across the English Channel.