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

magniX, Sydney Seaplanes And Dante Aeronautical Partner For World’s First All Electric Cessna Caravan STC Program

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

This sub-title defines their objective.

Global leader in electric propulsion technology to work with leading charter and integrator companies in Australia and the South Pacific to provide electric aircraft.

Note.

  1. An STC is a Supplemental Type Certificate, which is added to the aircraft’s type certificate, to allow it to be flown, after a major modification, such as a different power plant or a structural modification, such as a cargo door or aerodynamic modification.
  2. In the case of the Cessna Caravan, the gas turbine engine is being replaced by an electric motor and batteries.
  3. Over 2, 600 Cessna Caravans have been built.

This picture shows the Cessna Caravan in which I flew in Kenya.

I look forward to flying in an electric Caravan!

December 10, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

MagniX Electric Aircraft Engines Take To The Skies

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on pv magazine Australia.

This is the introductory paragraph.

No emissions, low-cost regional flights with just eight other sanitised folk and a disinfected pilot… Yes, Covid-19 is warping our view of the future, but the successful electrically powered maiden flight last week of a Cessna Caravan aircraft, offers the potential for new models of travel supporting wider distribution of commerce in Australia.

The article goes on to discuss Roei Ganzarski’s vision of what zero-emission electrically-powered aviation could do.

Economics

This is a paragraph from the article.

Its successful half-hour, 160km test flight used less than US$6 worth of electricity, compared to a Cessna Caravan powered by conventional combustion engine which would have sucked up some US$300-400 worth of fuel. And Ganzarski points out that, as in electric vehicles, the motor requires very little maintenance compared to its gas-guzzling cousins.

That is impressive.

The Market

This is a sentence from the article.

MagniX says 45% of all airline flights cover less than 800 km, while 5% of flights are sub-160 km, and it’s likely that commercial electric flights powered by magniX motors will first be offered in the UK, US or Europe.

I didn’t believe that the proportion of short flights was so high.

I could see all flights below 160 km (100 miles) will be flown by electric aircraft and a large proportion of those below (800 km (500 miles) going in the same direction.

The Vision

This is a paragraph from the article.

You could have phenomenal factories or businesses in these places that can’t currently sell their goods or can’t receive goods because the 4.5 to 6-hour truck drive that happens maybe once a week is just operatively prohibitive. If you could have an aircraft do that in 20, 40, 60 minutes and do it with zero emissions at a really low cost, and suddenly you’re really connecting these communities…

As it was given in quotes, I would assume it was spoken by Roei Ganzarski.

What would that do for high-quality agricultural products and seafood produced on remote islands.

This statement is in the Wikipedia entry for Loganair.

Loganair is planning to introduce electric aircraft to the Orkney Islands by 2021 due to the short distance between the islands that would make such flights possible.

They seem to be following a parallel path, with their involvement in Project Fresson. But as that development of a Britten-Norman Islander, is not planned to fly until 2022, could Loganair be a possible launch customer for an electric Cessna Caravan?

  • Loganair have the ideal short routes.
  • The electric Caravan won’t be the most difficult aircraft to certify for flying with a Supplemental Type Certificate, as several other Caravan variants with a change of powerplant, are flown this way.
  • The environmental profile fits some of Loganair’s routes in Scotland.
  • According to Roei Ganzarski, the economics would be ideal for Loganair’s routes.
  • Roei Ganzarski gave a long sales promotion-style interview on the BBC. Who was he targetting?

But the biggest factor is that Roei Ganzarski appears to be a showman in the mould of those great Victorian engineer/entrepreneurs, who defined and built much of the world we admire. What better stage is there to showcase his electric aircraft, but the remote airports served by Loganair?

The Specification

The Wikipedia entry for the Cessna Caravan now has s section for the electric Caravan, where this is said.

The eCaravan is an electric aircraft modification of the 208B built by AeroTEC and magniX powered by a 750 hp (560 kW) motor and a 1 t (2,200 lb), 750V lithium-ion battery. Its 30 min first flight happened from Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake, Washington, on May 28, 2020, consuming $6 worth of electricity, needing 30-40 min of charging. The Magni500-powered variant can fly 100 mi (160 km) with 4-5 passengers while keeping reserve power, and aims for a certification by the end of 2021, hoping to operate 100-mile flights with a full load of nine passengers with better batteries.

The pv magazine Australia article says the flight was for 160 km (100 miles), so that would cover a lot of short routes.

Suppose with reserves, that the plane should have a one hour endurance. my experience of piloting aircraft leads me to estimate that the average power setting would be less than fifty percent of full power for a real flight, as cruise and descent, need a lot less power than climb.

This would mean, that the aircraft needs to take-off with around 280 kWh of fuel, which would be enough to power the motor at half-power for an hour.

In Sparking A Revolution, I comment on an article of the same name in Issue 898 of Rail Magazine, which talks about Hitachi’s plans for battery-electric trains.

This is an insert in the Rail Magazine article, which will apply to all applications with traction batteries. Including aviation!

This is said.

The costs of batteries are expected to halve in the next five years, before dropping further again by 2030.

Hitachi cites research by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) which expects costs to fall from £135/kWh at the pack level today to £67/kWh in 2025 and £47/kWh in 2030.

United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI)  is also predicting that battery energy density will double in the next 15 years, from 700 Wh/l to 1,400 Wh/l in 2035, while power density (fast charging) is likely to increase four times in the same period from 3 kW/kg now to 12 kW/kg in 2035.

This page on the Clean Energy institute at the University of Washington is entitled Lithium-Ion Battery.

This is a sentence from the page.

Compared to the other high-quality rechargeable battery technologies (nickel-cadmium or nickel-metal-hydride), Li-ion batteries have a number of advantages. They have one of the highest energy densities of any battery technology today (100-265 Wh/kg or 250-670 Wh/L).

The highest figure of 670 Wh/l would appear to fit the Hitachi extract, where 700 Wh/l is quoted.

If I use the Wh/kg figure, it would appear that a one tonne battery could hold between 100 kWh and 265 kWh.

I suspect, that the higher figure would be enough to perform the 160 km. test flight, which I estimated could need 280 kWh.

But battery development in the next few years will be on the side of Roei Ganzarski’s vision.

Conclusion

Electric aircraft are not a politically correct mad idea, but a serious proposition to make the world a better place.

The article is a must-read!

June 1, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

MagniX and AeroTEC Put All-Electric Cessna Airplane Into The Air For First Time

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

An all-electric version of one of the world’s best-known small utility airplanes hummed through its first flight today at Moses Lake in central Washington state.

This is a picture of another Cessna Caravan, that I took, as I boarded it in Kenya for a flight to the Maasai Mara.

 

The aircraft are very much a Ford Transit or Mercedes  Vito of the skies.

  • 2,600 have been built.
  • It is still in production.
  • The passenger version can carry nine passengers.
  • Total flight hours are over twenty million.
  • FedEx operates 239 of the type.

It must surely, be an ideal aircraft to convert to electric power.

This is a video of the first flight on YouTube.

The guy behind the project;Roei Ganzarski has just given a very optimistic interview on BBC Breakfast.

He emphasised the various environmental and financial advantages of the aircraft and if you can catch it on the iPlayer, it outlines a possible future for aviation.

I can see electric Cessna Caravans flying around the UK within the next couple of years.

Designing And Building An Electric Aircraft

Three of the designs for commercial electric aircraft under development are conversions of existing designs.

This must make certification of the aircraft simpler, as you’ve just replaced one type of engine with a battery and electric motor of similar size.

The difficult parts of the design; the aerodynamics and structure are probably almost unchanged.

As MagniX are involved in the first two of these projects, I would suspect that they have come up with an electric motor, that fits what is needed for aviation very well.

But then electric motor design is changing, probably driven by the needs of electric transport from bicycles through cars and vans to buses, planes, ships, trains and trucks.

It should also be noted, that the Beaver, Caravan and Islander are all simple aircraft, with a long history of successful operation and a vast knowledge base amongst pilots, engineers and operators of how to use these aircraft safely and in a financially viable way.

Will we see other aircraft conversions from to electric power in the next few years?

This page on Flying Magazine discusses conversion of Cessna 172 to electric power.

 

May 29, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment