US hybrid-electric aircraft manufacturer Ampaire is leading the 2ZERO consortium in a UK project that aims to demonstrate the feasibility of regional electric aviation.
Ampaire’s 2ZERO (Towards Zero Emissions in Regional Aircraft Operations) programme will include demonstration flights of its six-seat Electric EEL aircraft and 19-seat Eco Otter SX, which is a hybrid-electric upgrade of the Twin Otter commuter aircraft. These testbed aircraft will be used to develop and evaluate requirements for a fully integrated electric aviation infrastructure.
Consortium partners include Rolls-Royce Electrical, Nottingham University, Loganair, Exeter and Devon Airports, Cornwall Airport, Heart of the Southwest Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSWLEP), and UK Power Network Services.
The team has received a share of £30m from the Future Flight Challenge for its 2ZERO proposal to demonstrate hybrid-electric aircraft on regional routes in the South West of the UK.
Hawthorne California-based Ampaire said 2ZERO will take a systems approach to integrate hybrid-electric aircraft technology with existing airport and airline operations. One of the objectives of the 2ZERO programme is to model and simulate a point-to-point (PTP) route system for regional flights using hybrid-electric aircraft, improving regional services and providing more time-and energy-efficient travel options compared with traditional hub-and-spoke systems.
As part of the project, an electric aircraft will be based at Cornwall Airport Newquay and some of the energy used to charge the aircraft’s batteries will be generated by an adjacent solar farm.
“For electric aviation to become commonplace, and play a significant role in reducing greenhouse gases, we need to look at not only electric aircraft but the entire ecosystem to support electric aviation,” said Susan Ying, Ampaire senior vice president for global partnerships.
“During the course of the project, Loganair pilots and engineers will gain experience operating Ampaire’s EEL and provide feedback to ensure that future commercial aircraft incorporating this technology are effective transport solutions not just for Scotland and the South West, but the wider, global market,” added Andy Smith, Loganair’s head of sustainability strategy.
According to Ampaire, emissions would be reduced by up to 70 per cent with hybrid-electric aircraft and eliminated completely with a generation of all-electric aircraft. The company added that the successful demonstration of up to 19 seats will help to shape regulations and standards which currently have gaps for these new classes of aircraft and airport operations.
The 2ZERO project is funded by UK Research and Innovation through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. The 2ZERO programme runs until May 2022.