Faradair Aerospace is close to completing the design of its Bio Electric Hybrid Aircraft (BEHA) and starting structural engineering work. Over the past eight months, the company has added major partners, including propulsion providers Honeywell and MagniX, and has expanded its workforce at a new headquarters at Duxford airfield in the UK. The most recent addition to the program is Dunlop Aircraft Tyres.
“We are going to see a democratization of the regional air travel model,” CEO Neil Cloughley told last week’s EBACE Connect audience of business aviation industry professionals. “Covid has brought a huge opportunity. We’re seeing a lot more interest in sustainability and new business models because technology is proving itself [in terms of value to society].”
According to Cloughley, MagniX’s Magni500 electric motors will have achieved certification in plenty of time for the first full-scale BEHA prototype to start test flights in 2024. Honeywell is supplying a turbogenerator that will be able to run on sustainable aviation fuel or jet-A. Plans call for an all-electric version of the short takeoff and landing aircraft once battery technology improves.
The initial M1H model will be able to carry 18 passengers or five tonnes of freight on flights of up to around 1,150 miles. It would have a service ceiling of around 14,000 feet and fly at up to 230 mph.
The company hopes to achieve Part 23 type certification by the end of 2026 and expects to have at least 300 of the 18-seat aircraft in commercial service, with a mix of passenger and cargo missions, by 2030. It intends to offer these aircraft through various arrangements that might including leasing. Cloughley said operators will be able to reconfigure the interior for these different roles in little more than 15 minutes.
The BEHA is expected to be able to operate from runways as short as 300 meters (984 feet). Cloughley said this performance has the potential to bypass busier airports, reducing journey times and opening up trips for which no commercial airline service currently exists or would be viable. He argued that some regional airlines have struggled to sustain profitability by operating from major airports, such as London Heathrow where elevated cost structures make it hard for them to be competitive.
“Imagine if you could carry up to 18 passengers from an airfield five miles up the road [from a major airport] without the crowds, security [delays], and high cost base,” he told the EBACE audience. “That way you could start something really interesting, and so our short-field performance will be very significant. Our program is about providing mobility as a service and being disruptive.”
With market disruption on its agenda, Faradair recently recruited Tony Anderson, a former executive with low-cost carrier EasyJet, to its advisory board. Another significant appointment was Randy Tinseth, a former Boeing Commercial Airplanes marketing vice president, to lead the advisory board.