UK company reveals plans for triple-wing, 18-seater hybrid electric aircraft

2 Apr 2019

The BEHA will feature three wings as part of its design. Image: Faradair

In the bid to make air travel a lot more sustainable, a British start-up called Faradair is building a hybrid electric aircraft that can hold 18 passengers.

Despite efforts to cut back on the amount of emissions produced by the air travel industry, jet engines still overwhelmingly rely on fossil fuels that will only increase in scarcity and decrease in popularity over the coming years.

Now, a start-up based in the UK called Faradair claims its concept aircraft design could provide a much cleaner mode of transport using hybrid electric propulsion. The bioelectric hybrid aircraft (BEHA) will be designated BEHA_1MH and will feature a ‘triple-box wing’ design capable of taking off with less than 300 metres of runway.

After four years of development, the start-up said that the craft would be capable of carrying 18 passengers. However, unlike many other aircraft of its size, it can change configuration in 15 minutes to become a cargo plane capable of carrying three containers up to a weight of five tonnes.

Its hybrid propulsion system combines electric motors with a turboprop engine, which the company said would result in lower operating costs, lower emissions and increased safety redundancy. The aircraft will use existing battery technology for emergency power and ground operations.

It should also be relatively quiet as its twin contra-rotating propfans within a vectored, acoustic reduction duct will both improve efficiency and reduce the noise of the engine to 60 decibels. With a cruising speed of 370kph, the BEHA_1MH could fly from London to Manchester in approximately 42 minutes.

3D render of the BEHA from the top down, showing its interior and solar panels against a black background.

How the interior of the BEHA will look. Image: Faradair

So far, the company said it has been in discussion with potential civilian and non-civilian customers and has apparently attracted the attention of British MPs at a parliamentary group for general aviation.

“The prospect of hybrid electric flight and the ability for people throughout the UK and around the world to fly regionally as simply as taking a bus is a future that opens up so much regional growth benefit opportunity,” said MP Grant Shapps.

“I genuinely believe the Faradair BEHA is an exciting opportunity for the UK, both in civilian and non-civilian configuration, and I hope we will see this new British aerospace manufacturer grow, develop and create jobs with the appropriate backing and funding to prove that the UK can continue to design and build world-class, whole aircraft systems.”

By 2025, the company hopes to have the plane certified for carrying passengers.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic