One of the most exciting and pioneering innovations in aerospace is leaving Gloucestershire and moving to Cambridgeshire after being invited to become a central part of The University of Cambridge’s Gonville & Caius College and Imperial War Museum‘s (IWM) ambitious new Duxford AvTech development which will create an aviation research and development facility at the famous airfield location.
Faradair, the innovative Gloucestershire aerospace startup has championed hybrid and electric flight since 2014, evolving the BEHA design from initial concept to commuter category aircraft with the support of angel investors and industrial and academic partners.
The BEHA (Bio Electric Hybrid Aircraft) is the vision of commercial aviation and former IT entrepreneur Neil Cloughley. He has created a company, team, brand and an aircraft design which he is convinced will transform regional and non-civilian air mobility.
Neil said: “Covid-19 has highlighted the global opportunity for cleaner, quieter skies and more sustainable forms of transport, a vision our company has championed for many years now. IWM Duxford will now not only be a site of historical significance [it is Europe’s largest air museum and the location from where the first Spitfires flew in the Second World War], but also a site on which to showcase the ‘future’ of aerospace. We will create jobs and inspire the thousands of school kids that visit every year to pursue STEM subjects with clear future employment opportunity with the company.
With a unique wing configuration and ultra-quiet, sustainable propulsion system and state-of-the-art avionics, the Bio Electric Hybrid Aircraft (BEHA) is a Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) aircraft that promises affordable, quiet and green regional air transport for all.
As an early pioneer of the new air mobility sector, Faradair intends to revive whole-aircraft manufacturing with a UK designed and developed aircraft, creating jobs and revenue not just for the local community but also internationally. In addition, the quiet flight capability and advanced safety features of the aircraft, could provide commuters with a financially attractive and time saving alternative to expensive and congested land-based transport.
In Cambridgeshire, Faradair will begin the development of its full-sized prototype aircraft that can carry an unmatched payload capability of passengers, freight and equipment as well as fulfilling a range of other utility roles in diverse regions around the world.
With first BEHA flight targeted for 2023/24, Faradair is the first aviation company to join Gonville & Caius College and IWM’s ambitious new Duxford AvTech development.
Faradair has also secured the support of former Head of the Defence Select Committee – Dr Julian Lewis MP, who has been following the programme.
Dr Lewis said: “Whenever military aviation technology achieves a breakthrough, it has to overcome obstacles placed in its way by those lacking enterprise and vision. The innovative BEHA project has immense potential military and civil utility, and it is hugely encouraging that the relocation to Duxford has facilitated an important step in the BEHA development journey. History will thank those who have made this possible.”
The BEHA is a similar size to the former British Jetstream31 aircraft, with a wingspan of 17meters (55ft) and an expected cruise speed around 200kts (230mph/370kph), unpressurised with a service ceiling of around 14,000ft. It is currently undergoing final design optimisation at Swansea University and talks are ongoing with investors, customers and new aerospace partners.
Faradair was formed in 2014 and remains the UK’s pioneering hybrid electric aircraft development company, despite the proliferation of new companies in this sector and negligible UK Aerospace innovation funding support. This multi-award winning aerospace start-up is working with a growing list of partners to deliver an innovative prototype aircraft and propulsion systems that is set for flight trials within the next three years. Whilst Faradair’s early vision for hybrid electric regional air transport is now being adopted by many of the major tier 1 aerospace primes, its BEHA aircraft design comes from a 30 year family history in joined-wing Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) technology, dating back to the 1980’s.