The Anonymous Widower

Faradair’s BEHA Hybrid Aircraft Boosted By Partnerships

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on AINonline.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Faradair, the UK company developing a hybrid-electric short takeoff and landing aircraft for applications including regional airline service, on Thursday announced four new risk-sharing partners. Honeywell, MagniX, Cambridge Consultants, and Nova Systems, have all signed up to contribute to the development of the Bio Electric Hybrid Aircraft (BEHA), which is expected to enter service in 2026.

Some points from the article.

  • The aircraft is bio-electric as it is powered by a small gas-turbine generator, which drives a contra-rotating ducted fan, through a pair of electric-motors.
  • It has a quick-change interior, that can handle 18 passengers or five tonnes of cargo.
  • Range is given as 1,150 miles, with a service ceiling of 14,000 feet and a speed of up to 230 mph.

The Faradair web site gives other useful data.

  • Wingspan is 57 ft.
  • Length is 48 ft. 2 in.

The article also discloses an innovative way of marketing the aircraft, which looks to me, like a modern update to how the company I helped found; Metier Management Systems, leased Artemis project management computer systems, several decades ago.

Comparison With Eviation Alice

I must compare the Faradair BEMHA with the Eviation Alice.

The Alice can carry nine passengers.

  • It cruises at 276 mph.
  • Range is 620 miles
  • Service ceiling is 12,500 ft.
  • Wingspan is 52 ft. 11 in.
  • Length is 43.3 ft.

The Alice would appear to be slightly smaller, with a shorter range.

  • If you look at the pictures of the two aircraft on the Faradair and Eviation Alice web sites, you will see that they are radical designs.
  • The Eviation Alice is fully electric, whereas the Faradair BEHA has a hybrid engine based on a small gas turbine running on aviation biofuel.
  • Both aircraft use MagniX electric motors.
  • Both aircraft fit into defined segments of the aviation market.

I very much believe that we’ll be seeing more unusual zero-carbon and carbon-neutral aircraft designs in the next few years.

A few thoughts.

Battery-Electric or Gas Turbine?

The Eviation Alice is solely powered by a battery, whereas the Faradair BMHA uses a hybrid engine based on a small gas turbine running on aviation biofuel.

Airbus built an experimental aircraft called the Airbus E-Fan X. This aircraft was to have used a gas-turbine and a battery. The aircraft was cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

So Faradair seem to be going a similar route to Airbus.

The AINonline article says this about Honeywell’s involvement.

Honeywell will support Faradair in producing a turbogenerator based on its gas turbine and generator technologies that is able to run on sustainable aviation fuel. The U.S. aerospace group will also contribute to other systems for BEHA, including avionics and flight controls.

According to Wikipedia, Honeywell certainly have lots of experience of small gas-turbine engines. They also make large numbers of auxiliary power units for aircraft.

The big disadvantage of the battery approach, is surely the weight of the battery, which needs to be large to have enough energy for the flight.

  • But electric power also restricts the aircraft to airports with recharging facilities. This must reduce the flexibility of the aircraft.
  • And also what happens after a diversion caused by weather, a passenger becoming unwell or some other circumstance, where the aircraft ends up at an airport with no handling for electric aircraft?

But with an aircraft that only needs sustainable aviation fuel, it can be filled up from a bowser used for small airliners and business jets.

If you want to be zero-carbon perhaps it would be better to fuel the gas-turbine with hydrogen.

Airbus seem to have come to that conclusion with their future plans, that I wrote about in ZEROe – Towards The World’s First Zero-Emission Commercial Aircraft.

I have a feeling that both Airbus and Faradair have shown, that to get enough range and for convenience, sustainable aviation fuel or hydrogen is better.

Nine Or Eighteen Seat?

Regulation has made nine- and nineteen-seats into niche markets and each developer is concentrating on a particular market.

  • An airline that uses small airliners like Loganair, actually has aircraft in both groups.
  • I suspect other airlines have similar mixed fleets.
  • Cape Air, who are the lead customer for the Alice, only fly nine-seat aircraft.

The customer has a choice depending on the size of aircraft he needs.

Short Take-Off And Landing Capability

I have flown as a passenger several times in small airliners with a capacity of up to nineteen seats.

  • Usually, they have been in a Cessna Caravan or Britten Normand Islander.
  • In a couple of cases, the trip has involved a take-off or landing on a short or grass runway.
  • Additionally, I have over a thousand hours in command of a Cessna 340, where I used a lot of short runways.

I would feel that as a lot of small airports have short runways, that a short take-off and landing capability would be a necessity for a small airliner.

Versatility

This Faradair press release is dated December 17th, 2020.

This paragraph details the aircrafts versatility.

The ambition is to deliver an initial portfolio of 300 Faradair®-owned BEHAs between 2026-2030, in the largest proof of concept air mobility programme ever created. Of these, 150 aircraft will be built in firefighting configuration, 75 as quick change (QC, passenger to cargo) aircraft, deployed at general  aviation airfields globally, and 50 as pure freighters. The final 25 aircraft will be demonstrated in non-civilian government roles, including logistics, border and fisheries patrol, and drug interdiction.

Note.

I particularly like the quick-change variant.

As 125 aircraft can be used for freighters, has one of the large parcel carriers expressed an interest?

I must admit, I’m surprised that 150 aircraft will be needed in a firefighting configuration.

To be continued…

 

 

December 18, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Today’s Rubbish, Tomorrow’s Jet Fuel

The title of this post, is the same as that of this feature article on Professional Engineering.

This is the opening paragraph.

One day, in the very near future, commercial aircraft will be fuelled by household rubbish. Yes, seriously.

It then goes on to describe the Velocys process for producing sustainable aviation fuel from household rubbish.

This paragraph explains, how it will change rubbish disposal.

Interestingly, Velocys won’t have to pay to obtain the waste. “We don’t buy it. We get paid to take it,” says Hargreaves. He explains how the supply chain starts with councils and businesses that are obliged to pay waste contractors to dispose of their waste. Those waste contractors then pay to incinerate the waste or send it to landfill sites. Velocys’s plant will simply act as an alternative disposal route.

The article is a very good explanation of one of the developments, that will shape the future of the world.

 

December 18, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment