Environmentally Friendly Hybrid Six-Seater In the Works

A company out of Cotswold, England, called Faradair, which also has roots in the United States, is in the process of developing an airplane that incorporates environmentally friendly propulsion methods melded into what it calls a Bio Electric Hybrid Aircraft, or BEHA for short.

The hybrid airplane is designed for six occupants and features a tri-box wing that Faradair says maximizes lift rather than speed. However, the company claims the airplane will still outperform light twins currently on the market. Propulsion will be achieved through two electric fan motors producing the equivalent of 200 horsepower each, which will power the airplane during all phases of flight. In addition, a 200 horsepower bio-diesel generator will drive a ducted pusher propeller, which the company says will add to the performance in flight and also recharge the batteries.

In addition to the power from the bio-diesel generator, the two electric motors will receive supplemental power from solar skin panels and wind turbines. The energy absorbed will also be used to power the avionics and other onboard systems that require electricity. A ballistic parachute is included in the design.

Faradair's managing director Neil Cloughley gleaned inspiration for the BEHA design from an unmanned UAV with a rhomboid wing, which was developed by his father 30 years ago. Plans are for the airplane to be controllable remotely from the ground. Another source of inspiration for Cloughley was the De Havilland Dragon Rapide.

Faradair hopes to raise £20,000 through a Kickstarter campaign by December 25. So far, 19 backers have contributed £1,408. Depending on the level of contribution, Faradair is offering incentives such as plaques, bricks and branded shopping bags for those who pledge. The company plans to use the money raised in the Kickstarter campaign to move the BEHA from the initial design phase to the research and development phase.

However, Faradair recognizes that a massive sum of money will be required to bring the BEHA to market. In addition to the Kickstarter campaign, Faradair has applied for several government grants to fund the program and has already signed on some partners. The aviation engineering university at Cranfield has committed to helping with the development of the technologies required to make the prototype fly.

Faradair hopes to complete the first prototype in 2016 and fly the production version by 2020.

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Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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