The Bio Electric Hybrid Aircraft – ‘BEHA’
The design brief was simple – Design an aircraft that could carry a heavy payload, take off and land in a very short space and generate a lot of lift.
Except this was the brief established for a Military specification UAV (Unmanned Air Vehicle) 30 years ago. The aircraft was created and it was light years ahead of its nearest rival in terms of capability and design innovation.
Unfortunately over the past 80 years, the UK establishment has a poor record in supporting its brightest stars on so many occasions and when it came to UAV’s, millions were wasted on the GEC/Marconi Phoenix UAV platform over 10 years, on a platform that failed to deliver and was eventually cancelled.
Unfortunately Neil’s fathers company did not survive in this period yet the assets won an $80million US Marine Corps research and development contract and four years later the Predator UAV came into existence. Ironically, the UK Government now purchases variants of the Predator and the US aerospace industry has generated $2billion from the programme.
In short, a lot of time and development into joined wing technology has been completed over a 30 year history and after a career in commercial aerospace, where there appeared to be a growing opportunity for a smaller regional commuter aircraft, Neil formed Faradair and the BEHA programme was born.
Initial Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) testing of the wing design and configuration was completed at Cranfield University in the UK and it was proven that the configuration was delivering the capabilities discovered in the past. The wing configuration was bench-marked against traditional triplane configurations and a number of alternatives and the configuration chosen by Faradair® was signed off for further development as the most promising.
The Bio Electric Hybrid Aircraft (BEHA) is a British designed aircraft that sits in the General Aviation/Commercial aviation crossover sector, for smaller regional aircraft. The aircraft will utilise its patented ‘Triple Box-wing’ configuration to take off and land in a very short space, on all surfaces, with the ability to be quick changed from passenger to cargo configuration in less than 15 minutes.
The aircraft will be powered initially by a 1600hp, hybridised Turboprofan configuration, with contra-rotating propfans contained within an acoustic reduction duct that improves thrust efficiency to around 220kts. The BEHA is targeted to cruise at around 200kts (230mph/370kph) with reduced noise and fuel burn from the advanced propulsion system.
Further CFD analysis and optimisation is being conducted at Swansea University in the UK and this has delivered results that have helped shape the design changes and programme focus, in terms of aircraft size and capability.
This optimisation programme is ongoing and a number of key features of the aircraft have yet to be revealed.
Once the payload capabilities of the wing configuration were understood, the primary focus of the design development was the ability to expand the fuselage and internal payload capability
The results are seen today with the BEHA M1H being widely praised as a futuristic and exciting looking aircraft that could revolutionise regional air mobility. In terms of size, it sits within a similar footprint to that of the BAe Systems Jetstream31 and Faradair® hopes the BEHA M1H will follow in the successful footsteps of that former British regional aircraft.
Whilst the age of Urban Air Mobility has arrived, Faradair® has always believed the greatest opportunity could be delivered via a new regional sized aircraft that is quiet, cost effective to acquire and operate and conforming with as many existing infrastructure networks and requirements. Whilst the opportunity for all Electric flight in the future is a hugely exciting development opportunity for the aerospace sector, the regulatory requirements for ‘passenger operations’ are extensive and yet to be fully understood or even written.
Faradair® has every intention to build and demonstrate an ‘All-electric’ variant of the BEHA aircraft, however it is believed that certification of such aircraft for passenger operations is unlikely before 2030. The immediate focus is therefore in the development and delivery of a full size flying demonstrator of the BEHA M1H by 2022 and certification for passenger operations of this hybrid aircraft by 2025.
The BEHA will come in three specification variants;
- BEHA – M1H : A 1600hp hybrid turboprop powered aircraft in ‘combi’ configuration offering either 18 passenger seats or three LD3 containers, capable of lifting five tonnes of payload
- BEHA – M1AT : An unmanned variant of the M1H, capable of autonomous flight and heavy payload delivery as an aerial ‘Airtanker’ for firefighting, refueling or cargo logistics. This variant is perfectly suited to non-civilian roles and package freight distribution.
- BEHA – E1 : An all electric powered variant with 4+ hours of zero emissions flight capability
Faradair® is now is discussions with potential customers for these aircraft.