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Swiss WorldCargo transports parts for e-Sling electric aircraft from Johannesburg to Zurich

At the end of November 2020, Swiss WorldCargo flew special cargo onboard a Boeing 777-300ER from Johannesburg to Zurich: individual parts that will be used to build the world’s first four-seater electric aircraft with a modular battery system. The complex shipment departed from Johannesburg late in the evening on November 24, before landing in Zurich on the morning of November 25.

The shipment after touchdown in Zurich.

e-Sling, a focus project of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), received the shipment in Zurich. This special ETH project, launched in September 2020 and scheduled to run until May 2021, will see the development and assembly of an adapted electric aircraft. The aircraft is based on the South African Sling TSi model, and has a span width of 10.5 meters. It will operate using a modular battery system as well as an electric motor, and is expected to fly up to 250km in distance at speeds of up to 160km/hour.

The e-Sling parts are offloaded in Zurich.

The e-Sling team consists of twelve electrical and mechanical engineers, who are focused on the assembly and launch of the aforementioned sustainable electric aircraft, which, once completed, can be used for a wide variety of purposes. The engineers are ETH students, who are interested in being part of the development of this next-generation airplane model.

Shipping large aircraft parts is no easy feat. Such a transport is logistically complex, and therefore involved close collaboration between SWISS teams in Zurich and Johannesburg. Initially, an analysis was conducted in order to assess how we could load the largest parts into the cargo hold of our aircraft, as well as where in the cargo hold they would be best positioned. Ahead of the journey, this necessitated close contact with both e-Sling and Swissport, our ramp handling partner in Johannesburg and South Africa, responsible for the loading and unloading of individual parts onto our aircraft. Ultimately, the entire shipment process ran smoothly, from beginning to end, and the individual parts are now ready for use.

Inside the cargo hold.

Swiss WorldCargo was proud to support this project and play an important role in ensuring the success of the e-Sling project. We wish the project team the best of luck in building their electric aircraft, and are proud to support innovative and sustainability-centred projects such as these.

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Pictures by 12AHEAD.