A hybrid aircraft designed by a UK company is expected to be ready for commercial flights by 2026 and have a full fleet by the end of the decade.
Faradair, a Cirencester-based company, is working on its bioelectric airplane (Beha), which can reach speeds of around 230 mph without being louder than a household vacuum cleaner.
The aircraft has a triple box wing design – a throwback to an experimental design first used more than 100 years ago – and is environmentally friendly and ultimately climate neutral.
Beha will have 18 seats and will be powered by a combination of electric motors and biofuel. Electric motors coordinate take-off and landing to reduce noise pollution. The Beha is expected to register around 70 decibels (dB) during take-off and landing, while conventional engines can reach 140 dB.
Biofuel engines take over while driving and drive a turbo generator. The motors also help in charging the electric motors with the help of solar panels.
The aircraft has been in development since Faradair was founded in 2014. Due to a lack of government funding and support, Neil Cloughley, managing director of Faradair, reached out to private investors for assistance.
A prototype of the futuristic vehicle is currently being created with funding, and the company is working with a consortium of partners to deliver 300 aircraft by 2030.
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A hybrid electric aircraft built by a UK company will be ready for commercial flights in 2026, and it is hoped that 300 aircraft will be operational by the end of the decade
The aircraft has a triple box wing design – a throwback to an experimental design first used in the 1920s – and is designed to be environmentally friendly and ultimately climate neutral
The vehicles are powered by a 1,600 hp biodiesel engine which, together with batteries, flies at a speed of up to 230 km / h. The start-up company Faradair announced that it wanted to become the most environmentally friendly aircraft in the world as early as 2014
WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE AVIATION FUEL?
Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is made from sustainable raw materials and its chemistry is very similar to traditional fossil jet fuel.
The use of SAF results in a reduction in carbon emissions compared to traditional jet fuel, which it replaces over the life cycle of the fuel.
Some typical raw materials used are edible oil and other non-palm waste oils from animals or plants; Solid waste from households and companies such as packaging, paper, textiles and food waste that would otherwise end up in landfills or incineration.
Other potential sources are forest waste such as wood waste and energy crops, including fast-growing plants and algae.
The biofuel engine is seen by Mr. Cloughley as an interim solution on the way to a truly climate-neutral version.
There is currently no zero-emission technology for an airplane and a hybrid is the best compromise in his opinion.
“All electricity would not be immediately available,” he told The Guardian.
‘Power density is simply not there for anything of any meaningful magnitude. That means we have to become hybrid; it means sustainable aviation fuels [SAFs] will be the ideal. ‘
Sustainable aviation fuels are made from scraps of material such as waste oil and excess food and fodder. This recycling reduces CO2 emissions compared to traditionally produced aviation fuel, but is still harmful to the environment.
Currently, only six percent of all jet fuel is SAF, but the UK government hopes that percentage will be 83 percent by 2030.
The take-off and landing of Beha are controlled by the electric motors, while the motor takes over the main power source for the entire travel phase of the flight.
The company has entered into a long-term partnership with Swansea University to perfect its unique “triple box-wing” design designed to maximize lift.
Faradair’s concept aircraft was purposely designed to take off and land on runways less than 300 meters in length.
It uses a system called “vector thrust” of two counter-rotating prop fans in the rear that are housed in a noise-suppressing area of the vehicle.
Engineers working on the project say this, when combined with electrically powered take-off and lansing, means the noise level is far lower than traditional jet engines.
Take-off and landing are dominated by an electric motor powered by the batteries. The motor will be the predominant source of energy during the entire travel phase of the flight and at the same time it will charge the batteries – with the help of fixed solar panels
The emerging Cirencester-based company is partnering with Swansea University to perfect its unique “triple box wing” design designed to maximize buoyancy
Beha is primarily intended for passenger transport, but could also carry freight of up to five tons by stripping off the seats. According to Faradair, the transition from cargo to passenger flight can take place in 15 minutes.
According to Cloughley, the aircraft is a compromise needed to improve the environmental performance of aviation in the short term while developing fully climate-neutral alternatives.
‘[It will not be] the most elegant, the sexiest, the fastest, the tallest or the most distant aircraft, ”he says.
However, he believes that its attractiveness lies in its low emissions, cheapness and flexibility. The environmental friendliness will only improve if the electric motors and battery technology keep improving, says Cloughley.
The world’s first “commercially available” aircraft powered by hydrogen is taking to the skies over the UK and is an important step towards zero-emission flights
A full-size, commercially available aircraft powered by hydrogen has completed a successful flight over the Bedfordshire skies in a world first.
The company behind the maiden flight is a US-UK company called ZeroAvia that hopes commercial aviation can be zero-emissions by 2023.
The successful 20-minute flight included a taxi, a take-off, a loop and a landing. A 250-mile flight from the Orkney Islands follows later that year.
The six-seat Piper M-Class aircraft took off from Cranfield Airport, which is also home to ZeroAvia’s research and development facilities.
Hydrogen fuel cells generate electricity to power a battery and a motor by mixing hydrogen and oxygen – provided by the air – through a chemical reaction.
The only waste product generated by this process is water, unlike traditional aviation, which is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
Val Miftakhov, CEO of ZeroAvia, said: “It is difficult to put into words what this means for our team, but also for anyone interested in zero-emission flight.
“While some test aircraft have flown using hydrogen fuel cells as a source of power, the size of this commercially available aircraft shows that paying passengers could very soon get on a truly zero-emission flight.”
The company’s Hyflyer project received £ 2.7 million in government funding last year.
The central principle of Beha and Faradair includes electricity and short haul flights, but other manufacturers have taken a different approach.
The aviation giant Airbus, for example, is concentrating its efforts on hydrogen. In September 2020, three new aircraft designs were presented, which are to be brought into circulation by 2035.
One is a short-haul propeller aircraft, a direct rival of Beha.
Airbus sees hydrogen fuel cells, which produce electricity and the only waste product is water, as the future of aviation.
In December, Airbus also presented its designs for self-contained hydrogen fuel cell capsules that are attached to the underside of the aircraft wings.
Each pod contains a propeller and all of the fuel, engines, cooling, and engineering required to thrust long-haul flights.
The units are detachable so that they can be switched on and off after a flight to speed up the required maintenance.
Airbus hopes the pods could revolutionize air travel and usher in a new era of zero-emission flights.
In the design, three hydrogen fuel cell capsules are attached to the underside of each aircraft wing.
Hydrogen and air are stored in each individual pod and fed to the fuel cell, where they together generate electricity.
Faradair’s concept aircraft is called Behaand and builds on its earlier designs aimed at being able to take off and land on runways less than 300 meters in length
Beha is primarily designed to carry passengers, but it can also carry cargo of up to five tons by stripping the seats and replacing them with containers