Ampaire, a pioneer in hybrid-electric aircraft technology, will launch demonstration flights between Exeter Airport and Cornwall Airport Newquay this week, to advance the use of sustainable aviation, driving down costs and emissions on short regional routes. The flights are part of a series of government-backed trials aimed at moving the U.K. towards green aviation.
Demonstration flights will be flown by its Electric EEL technology aircraft. The EEL, a modified U.S.-built six-seat Cessna 337 Skymaster, features a battery-powered electric motor at the front and conventional combustion engine at the rear, enabling a reduction in emissions and operating costs by as much as 30%. The aircraft will fly between these two regional airports, 85 miles apart, on a combination of battery and piston power, collecting valuable data to monitor fuel savings, efficiency and noise.
Ampaire uses the EEL as an important research and development platform. It is currently developing hybrid-electric power train upgrades for 9- to 19-seat regional aircraft, including the Cessna Grand Caravan and Twin Otter. It views the near-term opportunity to transform existing turboprop aircraft as the first step to fully electric aircraft, which will become feasible as battery technology advances.
Ampaire heads a U.K.-based consortium created to explore regional electric aviation transport solutions. Last year the team received £2.4 million from the U.K. Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) £30 million Future Flight Challenge towards the consortium’s £5 million 2ZERO program.
2ZERO (Towards Zero Emissions in Regional Aircraft Operations) involves the operation of hybrid-electric aircraft on regional routes in South West U.K., together with a study of the ecosystem required to enable the future of electric aircraft within existing airport and airline operations.
The 2ZERO bid was submitted by Ampaire and partners including Exeter Airport, Rolls-Royce Electrical, University of Nottingham, Loganair, Cornwall Airport, Heart of the Southwest Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSWLEP), and U.K. Power Networks Services. (£1.00 = US$1.37 at time of publication.)