British manufacturer Faradair is developing a new hybrid triplane that could bolster wider efforts to commercialize short-haul electric travel.
The model, called the Bio Electric Hybrid Aircraft (BEHA), isn't a hybrid in the conventional sense — instead of combining a kerosene-guzzling combustion engine with an electric motor, the word 'hybrid in the model's name refers to an 'electric-biofuel' duo, an Innovation Origins report explains.
After taking off and reaching cruising speed using its electric motor, BEHA switches to a biofuel-powered turbo-generator. For landings, the aircraft once again switches to the electric motor.
Working around the limitations of electric air travel
Duxford, Cambridgeshire-based Faradair says its hybrid system finds a way around the current limitations of electric air travel — the main issue is that battery technology today can't quite match the ranges required.
As per Innovation Origins, the wings on BEHA are specifically designed to provide better performance. The aircraft is also designed to easily fit better batteries once the technology improves and it has a non-pressurized cabin for reduced maintenance costs.
The concept aircraft is also easily adaptable — it can carry up to 18 passengers and can also be converted into a cargo plane, with a maximum capacity of 5 metric tons, in just 15 minutes.
Faradair will be competing with the new trend of vertical take off and landing (VTOL) drones, built by startups including Volocopter and Lilium. While the BEHA still needs a small airstrip to take off and land, it should have the added benefit of extra capacity over VTOL drones — though a GKN Aerospace concept does carry up to 50 passengers — at the same time as providing the same eco-friendly benefits.
Faradair is working with Honeywell, on its turbogenerator, and MagniX on its electric motors. It says it aims to release the first BEHA aircraft by 2030.