A Cranfield University commercial aviation spin-off has won £9m from the Government to develop electric flight.
Cranfield Aerospace Solutions (CAeS) won the cash for Project Fresson - to design, manufacture and integrate a hybrid-electric propulsion system into a nine-seat Britten-Norman (B-N) Islander aircraft (pictured).
This type of aircraft is typically used on short flights such as island-hopping routes.
Following the demonstrator project, CAeS will go on to certify the modification through the European Aviation Safety Agency to obtain a Supplemental Type Certificate.
This will then be immediately available in the global market, allowing the current operators of the 400+ B-N Islanders to convert their aircraft, reducing operating costs and their carbon footprint.
The grant is provided through the ATI Programme – a partnership of the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), business department BEIS, and Innovate UK that aims to grow the UK’s competitive position in civil aerospace design and manufacture.
Mark Scully, head of technology for advanced systems and propulsion at the ATI, said: ‘The partners’ ultimate goal of delivering the first commercial passenger-carrying all-electric aircraft service in the UK will mark a significant breakthrough for all-electric propulsion.’
CAeS CEO Paul Hutton said: ’The strength of the industrial partners involved in this project are underpinned by the world-class aerospace/manufacturing research capabilities of Cranfield University. This is going to accelerate our green transport revolution.’
The Project Fresson team includes:
- Rolls-Royce, who will be supplying the power management system;
- the Denis Ferranti Group, supplying the electric motors;
- Delta Motorsport, providing battery packs;
- WMG (University of Warwick), who will perform battery testing and characterisation;
- and Britten-Norman, the aircraft OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) providing the baseline aircraft and aircraft data/design support.
CAeS parent Cranfield University will be researching key technology solutions for the 30-month project.
In follow-on phases of CAeS’s green aircraft strategy, the intention is to design and implement a similar modification, this time to a larger existing 19-seat sub-regional aircraft type, continuing with partners to design and build a new 19-seat aircraft.
The design of the new aircraft will be optimised for emission-free propulsion, making use of the certified propulsion systems architecture from the earlier phases.