The Faradair® vision is to enable regional air transport for all through the solving of three core problems – Noise, emissions and operating costs
However in order to deliver this vision the aircraft must be economically viable. But what does that mean?
Making a vehicle fly is a relatively easy task. Today we see individuals bolting electric motors to bathtubs and making them fly, but this does not mean they could carry fare paying passengers. We see new start-up companies with no experience of commercial aerospace, stating that they will start a new company, install new procedures, new propulsion systems, new avionics, new battery technologies, new materials and flight profiles and deliver all this via electric flight and be certified for passenger operations within three years!
Our advice to any investor hearing such things is – Buyer Beware!
The process of developing a commercial aircraft is complex and requires significant capital. As recent new developments have highlighted, even the most established OEM aerospace manufacturers can have problems that change the entire aerospace landscape.
At Faradair® we recognise these challenges and this is why we have chosen to build a traditional aircraft with a traditional propulsion system, piloted by a regular pilot and operating within existing regulatory and air networks.
However, we firmly believe that there are operational savings to be made via the use of hybrid technology, environmental impact reduction via lower emissions and less noise, whilst increasing the operational capability of the asset and therefore increasing the economic viability.
When considering ‘operating cost’ the total sum of airframe design and creation, certification, maintenance, insurance, wages, landing fees and many additional costs, must be considered before certain claims are made about
‘seat cost per mile’.
The Cessna Caravan is a utility aircraft that has served markets for nearly 40 years throughout the world with its ‘go anywhere’ flight profile and design capability. It can carry passengers or cargo and has been the inspiration for our aircraft and vision and the ability to provide an asset that can be used for multi-role capability even in the same day.
So what do we mean by this?
Imagine you take our aircraft in the morning for a scheduled commuter flight between two cities (Manchester to London), this journey is 161 miles and will take approximately 42 minutes in our BEHA M1H aircraft at roughly 200kts/230mph. We would expect this flight to cost around £40 per passenger and by doing so, it makes commuting by air a real possibility.
Now we see people commuting from further away, thus enabling them to have more choice as to where they live and reducing the housing burden on the city of employment. People will have more time in their lives with family and loved ones, a bigger home in a cheaper housing area and reduced stress in their daily lives.
But what does the operator gain from this?
The operator could fly three scheduled commuter trips every morning, carrying bonus payment passengers on the return leg. At the end of the day, they will collect the same morning passengers and return them home. By doing these six flights, the company has paid for their asset for the day and all their costs, with some margin.
But the day does not stop there, the operator has the asset available for flight training or charter during the day, they can then remove the seating in the evening and due to the quiet flight profile of the BEHA M1H (60dba at take off), they can fly freight at night, operating in and out of airfields that have noise restrictions for all other aviation assets.
This is what we mean by maximising economic operational viability.
The aircraft could serve inter-island, inter-city, inter-continent and be used for a variety of roles. The BEHA M1H does not need a traditional runway, operating from a strip of less than 300m on all surfaces. With a payload capability of 5 tonnes, the opportunity for humanitarian relief and disaster zone airlift, is considerable.
Faradair® is now set to build a new aircraft, fit for the requirements of modern society across the world. The BEHA M1H can link regions to larger airport hubs to increase connectivity and reduce commuter times. The aircraft can supply regions with logistical support in an economic manner, within hours for journeys that could take days for trucks to complete.
With a range of over 1000nm and a heavy payload capability, the BEHA M1H is the utilitarian aircraft of the 21st century with multiple market opportunities.
Mission roles and opportunities are highlighted below;
- viable low cost intercity commuter operations currently dominated by road and rail operators
- a friend to nature, used to aid conservation efforts in combating poachers and tracking wildlife
- tourism applications where aerial tours no longer have to disturb those beneath the flight path
- air taxi services for organisations, hotels, resorts and government organisations
- undertake many rotorcraft roles but for a fraction of the cost, noise pollution and safety risk
- Police and emergency service operations with low operational costs and low noise impact to local populace
- long distance power line and oil pipeline survey and inspection
- oil rig transport via ‘floatplane’ derivative of BEHA
- fisheries, Coast Guard, Maritime or border patrol and other non-civilian roles
- Light freight/utility cargo operations during unsocial hours
- VIP/Corporate shuttle for regular routes and staff members
- drone/UAV operations with full remote pilot capability
The BEHA M1AT is the autonomous UAV variant of the BEHA M1H.
Essentially the same aircraft, but configured for remote pilot or autonomous flight, the M1AT is initially configured for a supply logistics role with the option to be converted to an ‘Airtanker’ for Firefighting, refueling or fresh water supply. The variant was launched in 2018 specifically focused toward trials as an ‘Airtanker’.
Already the company has received order enquiries for the aircraft from customers across the world. That really is not surprising, considering the limited payload of helicopters and the significant risk to pilots when talking wildfires for example.
The BEHA M1AT will work in co-ordination with high altitude UAV’s to spot and combat young wildfires and then launch a fleet of BEHA M1AT Airtankers via autonomous flight tasking, to combat the young fire in an attempt to contain and extinguish the fire before it gets to the scale we have seen in recent global wildfire events.
By controlling wildfires early, we reduce Forestry service budget requirement, we reduce fossil fuel emissions, save much needed forests to counter emissions, reduce personnel risk, reduce insurance payouts and the increase the safety for citizens homes.
In addition to firefighting roles, the BEHA M1AT will serve military requirements to reduce resource requirements in the logistical supply chain, allowing scare resources such as helicopters and crews, to be focused on more essential tasks.
The logistical, persistent and wide area patrol tasks like drug interdiction missions will be conducted by the BEHA M1AT aircraft either via remote pilot or autonomous flight plot.
The BEHA E1
As technology develops, so the attraction of emission free transport becomes ever more attractive. However there is considerable debate as to the most viable ‘long term’ emission free power method of choice. Whilst the emissions for electric vehicles at the user end are near to zero, the means by which the power is generated and the way the minerals are harvested to create the batteries, are far from being considered ‘clean’.
That said, technology is improving and the ability to deliver propulsion from small electric motors, is a potential game changer for aerospace and aviation services. The issue remains with the power density of existing battery technology versus the power density of fossil fuels and therefore the ability to make an economically viable user case for an all electric aircraft is still challenging.
Unlike cars, if an aircraft runs out of power, encounters a thermal runaway event or other significant powered electronics failure, if flying at the time, it could be catastrophic.
Unlike a vehicle which can parked instantly, an aircraft may take up to 10 minutes or more to get to the ground safely. Equally, whilst a land based vehicle can get away with carrying batteries of significant weight, unless the aircraft has been designed to lift heavy payloads, current battery technology really does not lend well to passenger operations.
Flight training and personal recreational aircraft yes, there is already proven case for such aircraft with existing technology, but beyond this, there has to be a technology invention event, to make passenger operations economically viable in our opinion.
It is for these challenging reasons, that we believe that passenger operations for all electric aircraft will be delivered nearer 2030 than 2020.
Faradair® will build an all electric demonstrator aircraft as part of its prototype development programme and this BEHA E1 variant will showcase the capability and constraints of all electric flight. Once battery technology and regulations have been written and standards issued, Faradair® will be well placed to offer operators an all-electric variant of the BEHA.