The University of Nottingham and Air Race E have announced a collaboration to develop the first electric race aircraft. A prototype is in the making and will use an existing petrol-powered plane as base. The racing series will see pilots fly just above the ground at highest speeds from 2020.
The Air Race Events company aims to launch their first electric airplane race called Air Race E in 2020. In order to get actual vehicles, well, electric aircrafts ready, they teamed up with the University of Nottingham.
Together they are currently working to get a first prototype off the ground. It is built on an existing racing plane but will be equipped with a plug-and-play system for the electric motor, battery and power electronics. This means the system can be retrofitted once it proves functional.
The prototype race airplane will help shape the model and rules for the Air Race E series, which is set to launch its inaugural race in 2020. Racing pilots will then compete against each other in electric aircrafts on a very narrow track just above the ground. Formula Air Race planes, classified as “experimental”, are the only airplanes in the world designed specifically for racing and built to a specific race formula. They race at speeds faster than any land-based motorsport.
Still, the partners are hoping for an impact beyond the thrill of velocity much like the Formula E. Jeff Zaltman, CEO of Air Race Events, believes their partnership will “undoubtedly have a huge impact across the electric aviation industry.” And indeed they claim having had interest from across the industry. Adds Zaltman: “Since the announcement of the Air Race E series we have been overwhelmed by the response of innovators and leaders within the aviation sector and we are delighted to be working with the pioneering University of Nottingham Beacon Programme to help drive change within the industry.”
The University is investing 13 million pounds in the Beacons of Excellence programme which aims to find answers to global challenges, including sustainable travel.