Electric commuter aircraft

Artist’s impression of the 18-seat BEHA M1H.

The UK aerospace start-up company Faradair has announced plans to produce an 18-seat hybrid electric passenger aircraft, the Bio-Electric Hybrid Aircraft (BEHA) M1H, which it plans to certify for operations by 2025.

The BEHA M1H will use a hybrid propulsion system combining electric motors with a turboprop engine and Faradair’s patented Triple Box-Wing configuration to generate high lift. The aircraft has twin contra-rotating propfans within a vectored thrust and an acoustic reduction duct that Faradair says improves efficiency and reduces noise to a target of 60dB at take-off.

Faradair said the BEHA M1H’s configuration will lead to, “lower operating costs, lower emissions and increased safety redundancy. The aircraft will use existing battery technology for emergency power and ground operations.” The aircraft will be capable of carrying 18 passengers or three LD3 cargo containers up to 5,000kg (11,023lb) and will be able to change from cargo to passenger configuration, or vice versa, in 15 minutes.

Faradair Managing Director Neil Cloughley said: “We have always believed in the opportunity of hybrid propulsion to help reduce noise and operating costs in a specifically designed airframe optimised for regional flight capability. The BEHA M1H will allow operators the ability to provide viable air transport services including scheduled commuting flights, flight training and charter by day and the ability to use the quiet flight characteristics and payload capability for cargo operations at night.

“This opens market opportunities not served by existing aircraft, due to the lower noise signature and load capability. Our hybrid propulsion system mixes the proven capability of existing turboprop engines, which could be run on biofuel if desired, with the fuel saving and increased safety opportunity of additional electric propulsion.”

The BEHA M1H is the latest addition to Faradair’s portfolio, the company having previously announced a hybrid-engine variant called the BEHA-H1, an all-electric BEHA-E1 and the BEHA M1 military variant (the company has also offered an unmanned version of the BEHA M1 called the M1-AT).

The company said: “The BEHA is a traditional aircraft, certifiable to existing [EASA] Part 23 standards, able to operate from existing airfields but more importantly, able to operate from runways of 300m or less of any surface and be able to integrate within existing air networks.”

Faradair said it is in talks with potential civilian and non-civilian customers. The company will begin building the first demonstration prototype of the aircraft later this year and intends to begin flight trials by 2022.