The competition, which will see electric race planes fly wing tip to wing tip around a 5km circuit, just 10 metres above the ground and at speeds of upto 450kmh has been hailed by Air Race founder Jeff Zaltman as a significant milestone for the aviation industry that will will provide a testbed for innovation and accelerate the journey towards electric commercial travel.
Speaking from the Dubai Airshow (November 2019) where the latest announcement was made, Zaltman said, “These eight teams really are at the cusp of innovation in the electric aviation space and will play an important part in creating cleaner future air travel.”
All eight teams are in the process of building their planes in time for the first race which is scheduled to take place next autumn. Customised electric motors will enable the planes to fly with a maximum continuous power set at around 150kW, and teams will use lithium batteries installed beneath the fuselage to provide power for five minutes of high intensity racing and around 10 minutes of reserve flying at reduced power.
The first electric race plane, which is being which is being developed by the UK’s Team Condor, was also unveiled at the Dubai air show. Team Condor is using an existing airframe from a Cassutt single seat racing aircraft but is completely revamping the engine cowling to incorporate items such as a contra-rotating propeller system, electric motors, inverters and radiators.
Other groups, including Canada’s Team Outlaw, Germany’s Team Hangar-1, Team Allways Air Racing (USA) Team Mobius (US) are also looking at modifying existing racing aircraft. Meanwhile, US team Blue-BETA Racing, French entrant Team Scramasaxe and Team NL from the Netherlands are working on the development of prototype aircraft. The French aircraft for instance, dubbed ‘Scramasaxe E project’, features innovations including a tricycle landing gear incorporating a retractable front wheel, while the air foil will be modified to sustain speeds as high as 500km/hr.