Ampaire has launched demonstration flights between Exeter Airport and Cornwall Airport Newquay, to advance the use of sustainable aviation, driving down costs and emissions on short regional routes. Previously Apmaire launched a test from Kirkwall Airport in the Orkey Isles to Wick John O"Groats airport, becoming the first hybrid electric flights in Scotland in the process. The flights are part of a series of government-backed trials aimed at moving the UK towards green aviation.
Demonstration flights were flown by its Electric EEL technology aircraft. The EEL, a modified US-built six-seat Cessna 337 Skymaster, featured a battery-powered electric motor at the front and conventional combustion engine at the rear, enabling a reduction in emissions and operating costs by as much as 30%. The aircraft flew between these two regional airports, 85 miles apart, on a combination of battery and piston power, collecting valuable data to monitor fuel savings, efficiency and noise.
“The EEL flies very much like a conventional aircraft, with some new instrumentation for power management,” says demonstration pilot Elliot Seguin. “We have flown it nonstop from Los Angeles to San Francisco and now the length of the UK without any difficulty. It is the forerunner of a new generation of efficient aircraft that will be easy to fly for pilots and cost effective for airlines.”
Ampaire used the EEL as a research and development platform. It is developing hybrid electric powertrain upgrades for nine to 19-seat regional aircraft, including the Cessna Grand Caravan and Twin Otter.
“Low-emission aircraft are vitally needed on short haul regional routes to meet the UK's net-zero objective for aviation,” says Dr. Susan Ying, Ampaire's senior VP for global operations. “We are developing commercial aircraft now that will begin this revolution in sustainable aviation with service entry planned for 2024.”
Ampaire Ltd heads a UK-based consortium created to explore regional electric aviation transport solutions. Last year the team received £2.4 million from the UK Research and Innovation's (UKRI) £30 million Future Flight Challenge towards the consortium's £5 million 2ZERO programme.
Lord Callanan, UK Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Minister for Business, Energy and Corporate Responsibility at the Department for Business, Energy and Industry Strategy, comments: “We are committed to championing our world-leading aerospace sector, which has a critical role to play in helping to build back greener and end our contribution to climate change by 2050. The hybrid electric test flight by Ampaire, backed by £2.4 million of government funding, is a significant milestone in making aviation cleaner and more sustainable.”
2ZERO (Towards Zero Emissions in Regional Aircraft Operations) involves the operation of hybrid electric aircraft on regional routes in the south west UK, together with a study of the ecosystem required to enable the future of electric aircraft within existing airport and airline operations.