The Anonymous Widower

The Hybrid-Electric Plane That Will Switch From Passenger To Cargo In 15 Minutes

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

If you are sceptical about the concept of zero-carbon flying, then read this article, which takes the form of an interview with the Managing Director of Faradair.

August 3, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Air Passengers Can Beat Queues With Uber-Style Private Jet Service

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

Hyer Aviation are starting a service that uses similar technology to Uber to share seats on private jets around Europe.

Their modus operandi is laid out in this press release on their web site.

This paragraph is from the press release.

The concept works like an extra-comfortable UberPool with wings. Passengers can initiate their own flight or join flights proposed by others. This allows them to fly on private aircraft for a fraction of the cost while offsetting the carbon emission of their flights. From London, routes are available to some of Britain’s favourite holiday destinations such as Ibiza, Cannes, Malaga, Amalfi Coast and Amsterdam. From Amsterdam, it is also possible to find flights proposed by other passengers to Nice and Ibiza.

think this business model could fly.

Years ago, I owned a twin piston-engined six seater aircraft and I flew it all over Europe. I don’t fly now, as my medical history would probably stop that, but the experience showed there are many quiet airports all over the UK and Europe, that could be destinations for a 6-9 seater aircraft.

To me the interesting thing about this business model, is that there are several zero-carbon 6-9 seater aircraft under development.

Two are electric developments of the widely-used Cessna Caravan and the Britten-Norman Islander and others are clean-sheet developments like the Eviation Alice or the Faradair BEHA.

ZeroAvia are also experimenting with a hydrogen-powered Piper Malibu.

An electric or zero-carbon future for aviation is closer than many think.

But it will start at the smaller end with ranges of up to 500 miles.

 

 

June 14, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

France’s Aura Aero Unveils 19-Seat Electric Aircraft Development Plan

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Flight Global.

This is the introductory paragraph.

French aerospace firm Aura Aero is intending to develop a 19-seat electric-powered regional aircraft, as it looks to certify its two-seat Integral R light single.

For a better picture and more information, look at this article in The Times, which is entitled French Electric Airliner Will Take To The Skies In Five Years.

Some clues as to the specification from the article and around the web.

  • Nineteen seats.
  • Maiden flight by 2024 and in service entry in 2026.
  • It has six electric engines.
  • Three hundred mile range.
  • Hybrid power will be used to extend the range to 500 miles.
  • A freighter version will be available.

This paragraph is from The Times article.

This week the company began production of a new two-seater plane made of carbon-wood, a lightweight composite material. It is confident that it can meet its ambitious timetable in a race to beat rivals in Europe, the US and Israel and overcome the formidable weight and range barriers to commercial electric passenger flight.

A carbon-wood airframe hints at possibly the world’s most successful composite aircraft; the wooden De Havilland Mosquito, which was light, strong and very fast.

  • In fact, it was so fast, one aircraft could bomb Germany twice in one night, with two crews and a refuelling and a rearming in between.
  • It could also carry a bomb load not far short of that of a Boeing B17 Flying Fortress.

Sadly, we didn’t realise the full potential of this aircraft in World War II, but if we had, fewer aircrew and civilians on the ground would have died, as waves of Mosquitos could have knocked out important targets with precision and surprise. I wrote about one of their precision raids in The Kunstzaal Kleizkamp Raid.

Conclusion

I think the mathematics and regulations point to an aircraft with the following specification, being the right plane to develop.

  • Nineteen seats
  • 300 mile range
  • Versatile interior
  • Sustainable aviation fuel range extender

It appears that both the Aura Aero Era and the Faradair BEHA  are aimed at this market, with the Cessna eCaravan and the Eviation Alice aimed at a smaller number of passengers.

Note.

  1. Sustainable aviation fuel doesn’t need any specialist handling and can be delivered to the aircraft in a normal bowser.
  2. I suspect that one electric aircraft manufacturer or electric vehicle support company will develop a charging system, for the batteries, that is based on a vehicle that just plugs into the aircraft during loading.

I think this segment of the aviation market could be a big one and I wouldn’t be surprised to see other companies bringing forward 19 seat/300 miles aircraft.

Although, the market could be a bit squashed from the top. Airbus have proposed a ZEROe Turboprop, which I wrote about in ZEROe – Towards The World’s First Zero-Emission Commercial Aircraft.

This would be capable of carrying up to a hundred passengers over a thousand nautical miles, with no emissions except water.

 

March 27, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Return Of The Triplane Would Make The Red Baron Proud

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

Triplane and Red Baron are words that go together strawberries and cream. Or in my case strawberries and yoghurt!

The magazine seems to like the aircraft.

March 24, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Will A British Bioelectric Hybrid Plane Really Take Off?

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

The article is a serious look from a serious newspaper at the Faradair BEHA.

  • It will have a capacity of 18 passengers.
  • It will have a cruising speed of 230 mph
  • It will have a service ceiling of 14,000 feet.

The aircraft is a tri-plane based on a lightweight carbon-composite structure like many current Airbus designs and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

This image is copyright Faradair.

Note.

  1. The triple wing with the winglets.
  2. The conventional fuselage.
  3. The pusher fans at the rear of the fuselage.

It is not conventional.

Power

Power comes from a hybrid power unit consisting of a battery and the auxiliary power unit (APU) of an Airbus A 350 XWB. I wrote about the hybrid power unit in Honeywell Introduces Power Source For Hybrid-Electric Aircraft.

The power unit will run on sustainable aviation fuel produced from something like food, household or industrial waste.

As an experienced pilot and an experienced engineer and taking a few clues from the Guardian article, I believe the aircraft will fly a unique, but very sensible flight profile.

Many years ago, I wanted to fly my Cessna 340 A from Southend Airport to Naples Airport.

  • I loaded as much fuel, as the tanks would take.
  • I taxied to the runway,
  • A fuel bowser followed me down and added extra fuel to make up what I’d used in taxiing.
  • Take-off was on full power and I climbed at maximum rate to as high as I was allowed.
  • Once over France, I climbed to Flight Level 195 (19,500 ft), which was the highest level allowed in a light aircraft in full visibility without a full instrument rating.
  • The French Air Traffic Control handed me over to Italian Air Traffic Control at the same height.
  • I flew down the West coast of Italy at around 200 mph.
  • North of Naples, I descended slowly, trading height for speed and turned to come straight in to Naples airport.

Note.

  1. It had taken me six hours and forty minutes to fly around 1350 miles.
  2. What I had done in UK and French airspace was totally legal, but I suspect I broke the law in Italy.
  3. But the French ATC felt I was competent, so they just handed me over.

Sadly, I didn’t have a camera with me, as the views of Rome and the Italian coast were spectacular.

I believe that the Faradair BEHA will use a similar flight profile to that, which I used between Southend and Naples.

  • The plane will leave the terminal or apron with a full battery.
  • Before take-off, the hybrid power unit will make sure that the battery is full.
  • Take-off will be on full power and the lift of three wings will be used to lift off quickly and climb at maximum rate to the service ceiling of 14,000 feet.
  • The aircraft will build up speed to 230 mph using power in the battery or some extra power from the hybrid power unit.
  • The aircraft would execute a low power approach at the destination.

Note.

  1. Unlike in my flight to Naples, an autopilot will probably fly the aircraft to the maximum range profile.
  2. The plane will be very aerodynamically efficient and I suspect fuel consumption will be very low in the cruise.
  3. The higher you go, the less the air resistance.
  4. Fuel consumption would be almost nothing in the descent, as just as I did in my Cessna potential energy would be converted into kinetic energy to keep the plane at the necessary flying speed.

Faradair have not disclosed the range, but I feel with development, it could be a thousand miles.

Conclusion

By 2030, many of us will be flying around a thousand miles in weird looking airliners with up to twenty-five seats.

The 317 miles between Stansted and Edinburgh will be a piece of cake!

Everybody should read the excellent Guardian article.

 

 

March 19, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rolls-Royce And Tecnam Join Forces With Widerøe To Deliver An All-Electric Passenger Aircraft Ready For Service In 2026

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Rolls-Royce.

This is the first paragraph.

Rolls-Royce and airframer Tecnam are joining forces with Widerøe – the largest regional airline in Scandinavia, to deliver an all-electric passenger aircraft for the commuter market, ready for revenue service in 2026. The project expands on the successful research programme between Rolls-Royce and Widerøe on sustainable aviation and the existing partnership between Rolls-Royce and Tecnam on powering the all-electric P-Volt aircraft.

This picture from Rolls-Royce shows the proposed aircraft.

The P-Volt aircraft is based on the Tecnam P2012 Traveller.

The specification of this aircraft is as follows.

  • Crew – 1 or 2
  • Capacity – 9 passengers
  • Powerplant – 2 x 280 jW piston engines.
  • Cruise speed – 200 mph
  • Range – 1090 miles
  • Service ceiling – 19,500 ft.

The aim is to have an aircraft in service by 2026.

Use By Widerøe

This paragraph from the press release, outlines Widerøe‘s planned use of the aircraft.

The collaboration offers an opportunity to develop an exciting solution to the commuter aircraft market. Before the pandemic, Widerøe offered around 400 flights per day using a network of 44 airports, where 74% of the flights have distances less than 275 km. The shortest flight durations are between seven and fifteen minutes. Developing all-electric aircraft will enable people to be connected in a sustainable way and will fulfill Wideroe’s ambition to make its first all-electric flight by 2026. The all-electric P-Volt aircraft, which is based on the 11-seat Tecnam P2012 Traveller aircraft is ideal for the short take-off and landing as well as for routes in the North and the West Coast of Norway.

Conclusion

There are now five electric or low-carbon aircraft in the sub-nineteen passenger segment.

Note.

  1. The Slice and the Faradair are new designs.
  2. The Faradair is hybrid and all the others are fully electric.
  3. The Faradair can carry eighteen passengers and all the others are smaller.
  4. I suspect there are others under development.

Conclusion

The Tecnam P-Volt must have a high chance of success.

  • It’s designed for a purpose in a particular airline.
  • The Widerøe model would apply to large number of small feeder and commuter airlines.
  • Rolls-Royce are well-respected in aviation.
  • An existing airframe is being used, which shortens certification.
  • Norway is not short of a few bob.
  • Cape Air have ordered 93 of the piston engined variant.

I will look forward to flying this aircraft.

 

March 17, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Honeywell Introduces Power Source For Hybrid-Electric Aircraft

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

Honeywell have created a power source for hybrid-electric aircraft, that will run on a wide range of fuels including jet fuel, diesel and sustainable aviation fuel.

The Flying Magazine article is a must-read, which is mainly based on this press release from Honeywell, which is entitled Honeywell’s Newest Turbogenerator Will Power Hybrid-Electric Aircraft, Run On Biofuel.

The turbogenerator has two main parts.

Small Turbofan Provides The Power

These are details of the turbo fan.

The APU is obviously well-proven technology, from a company with a large share in the airliner market.

Generator To Provide Electricity

These are details of the generator.

  • It weighs 127 Kg or about two of me.
  • It can generate a megawatt of electricity.

The generator sounds powerful to me.

The first demonstration of this turbogenerator system will occur in the third quarter of 2021, with ongoing development and qualification to follow.

Honeywell says this about their collaboration with Faradair and other companies.

In December, Honeywell signed a memorandum of understanding with British startup Faradair Aerospace to collaborate on systems and a turbogeneration unit that will run on sustainable aviation fuel to power Faradair’s Bio Electric Hybrid Aircraft (BEHA). Faradair intends to deliver 300 hybrid-electric BEHAs into service by 2030, of which 150 will be in a firefighting configuration. Honeywell is in advanced discussions with several other potential turbogenerator customers, working to help define power requirements based on mission profiles required by various manufacturers.

I can see a lot of customers for this turbogenerator.

And not all will be in aviation!

March 12, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Transport/Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

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/Travel | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments