UK-based Faradair Aerospace has expanded its partnership with Swansea University as it steps up work on its Bio Electric Hybrid Aircraft (BEHA). The university’s Bay Campus is to become a training ground for engineers and interns to support the development of technologies for the hybrid-electric short takeoff and landing aircraft.
The aerospace engineering department of Swansea University in Wales has been involved in the BEHA program for the past four years. “We plan to have 30 engineers based at the Bay Campus working on BEHA developments by the end of 2021 and there will be opportunities for undergraduate and postgraduate students also,” explained Faradair founder and CEO Neil Cloughley.
“The partnership we have established, providing aerodynamic design support to Faradair for their BEHA aircraft, is an exciting opportunity for Swansea University,” said Dr Ben Evans, associate professor in aerospace engineering. “It will allow us to use our world-leading aerodynamic modeling, high-performance computing, and design optimization technologies on an aircraft set to transform the world of civil aviation.”
In December 2020, Faradair announced four new risk-sharing partners for the BEHA program. Honeywell, MagniX, Cambridge Consultants, and Nova Systems, signed up to contribute to the development of the aircraft, which is expected to enter service in 2026 after completing certification under Part 23 rules.
Faradair is aiming to have a full-scale prototype built by 2024. The start-up’s plans call for the BEHA to later be converted to all-electric propulsion by replacing the generator under a supplemental type certificate. It anticipates building three variants: an initial hybrid-electric model called the M1H, a pilotless M1AT model to be operated autonomously for military roles, and the all-electric E1 expected to be available by 2030. It expects to begin flight testing a full-scale prototype in 2024.
The aircraft is being designed to carry 18 passengers or 5 tonnes of freight on flights of up to around 1,150 miles. It would fly to a service ceiling of around 14,000 feet and operate at speeds of up to 230 mph.
Faradair’s business plan calls for it to build a portfolio of 300 BEHA aircraft that it will own and operate itself. Around 75 of these would be for passenger and cargo operations, with the ability to quickly change the cabin configuration. A further 50 aircraft would be used for freight-only services and 150 for fire-fighting operations. The company would offer the final batch of 25 aircraft for non-civilian government roles, including logistics, border and fisheries patrol, and drug interdiction.