BEHA – Innovative safety features for regional air transport
One of the largest sectors within General Aviation is the piston single engine market, closely followed in sales numbers in 2014 by Rotorcraft (Helicopters), yet two of the greatest areas for concern in the operation of these aircraft is related to engine failure. I.e. if the propulsion fails you will be falling out of the sky at a speed and within an area of your glideslope capability. Innovative safety features have now become a more important part of every new aircraft purchase.
If the prop in front or the blade above is no longer powered, you are generally looking for a place to land as safely as possible immediately and many simply don’t walk away from those attempts. But what if you had up to 10 minutes of electric flight time as a back-up? Without question, this capability would have saved many pilots lives if they had the feature fitted to their own aircraft in the past.
For an aircraft with ambitions to become a leading urban commuter aircraft, safety is paramount to us. The new Hybraero H600 hybrid propulsion system will offer maximum safety redundancy, with either the JetA1/biofuel engine or the twin electric motors able to maintain full flight capability in the event of a power loss. This offers twin engine levels of safety, via single combined propulsion system on a single power lever. Not only that, but engine operational costs are lower via cheaper fuel and turboprop levels of performance capability on a single engine licence requirement.
In the unlikely event the aircraft loses all power, the aircraft design will ensure a stable, glide capability with short field performance on all surfaces, offering the pilot a much larger selection of safe landing areas. This is what we mean by innovative safety.
If there is no possibility to land conventionally, the aircraft will also be fitted with a ballistic parachute recovery system, a feature which is now proving to be an essential element to any aircraft that prides itself on innovative safety capability.
This was never more clearly demonstrated when a U.S. Coast Guard aircraft captured the moment a pilot had a fuel issue in his Cirrus aircraft on a ferry flight to Hawaii. The Coast Guard were able to vector the pilot to a nearby Cruise ship that deployed a lifeboat, the aircraft circled the ship until it ran out of fuel and then the pilot deployed the recovery parachute. This type of innovative safety system has saved many lives in recent years and we believe it should now be a mandatory fitment for all new aircraft.
Our state of the art carbon composite fuselage will be created with a passenger protection crash cell, similar to those used in top level single seater race cars and latest hybrid supercars. This ensures that in the event of parachute deployment, the passengers will be protected upon landing and able to walk away. Our partners at Prodrive have decades of experience working with carbon composite materials within motorsport and their carbon products are some of the very best in the world, as demonstrated in cars like the McLaren P1.
The BEHA will use carbon composite materials as much as possible, including latest developments with graphene and nano technology.
One of the other most common form of accident for general aviation aircraft is related to landing gear failure. When we initially designed the BEHA, we intended the aircraft to have fixed landing gear, primarily to reduce weight. This also brings us an additional safety feature benefit, removing an item that the pilot needs to worry about and more importantly, removing the opportunity for part or full landing gear failure. Fixed landing gear also reduces insurance premiums and thus lowers operational cost further.
The prototype aircraft will be manned/unmanned capable to test the principle of ground control in the unlikely event of a pilot emergency.
BEHA will be a truly safe aircraft to fly family, colleagues and friends in.