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Development begins on world’s first electric race airplane

PUBLISHED: 12:27 21 November 2018 | UPDATED: 12:27 21 November 2018

Richard Glassock and Jeff Zaltman by Alex Wilkinson Media

Richard Glassock and Jeff Zaltman by Alex Wilkinson Media

Alex Wilkinson Media

Development of the first electric race airplane has taken a major leap forward due to an innovative partnership announced between the University of Nottingham and Air Race E

A new integrated ‘plug and play’ electric motor, battery and power electronics system will be designed and retrofitted into an existing petrol-powered Air Race 1 plane in workshops at the University.

The prototype race airplane will help shape the model and rules for Air Race E, which is set to launch its inaugural race in 2020.

The University is investing £13m in the Beacons of Excellence programme which is aimed at championing field-leading responses to global challenges, including sustainable travel.

With transport on the vanguard of a green revolution the two parties will drive the discovery and translation of new materials, components and technologies in order to change the game within electrified propulsion.

Jeff Zaltman, CEO of Air Race Events, commented; “This is a ground-breaking partnership between Air Race E and the University of Nottingham which will undoubtedly have a huge impact across the electric aviation industry.

“Since the announcement of the Air Race E series we have been overwhelmed by the response of innovators and leaders within the aviation sector and we are delighted to be working with the pioneering University of Nottingham Beacon Programme to help drive change within the industry.”

Richard Glassock by Alex Wilkinson MediaRichard Glassock by Alex Wilkinson Media

Richard Glassock, Research Fellow in hybrid propulsion systems for aircraft, and project lead, added; “Air Race E is set on making the electric aviation industry move faster and we are very excited to be working alongside them to make it happen.

“Future transport platforms will require electrical machines and power conversion and transmission solutions which can deliver a step-change in power density, efficiency and reliability.”

Air Race E will see electric airplanes racing directly against each other on a very tight circuit just above the ground and at speeds faster than any land-based motorsport.

Air Race E CEO Jeff Zaltman by Alex Wilkinson MediaAir Race E CEO Jeff Zaltman by Alex Wilkinson Media

Air Race E will be a similar format to the sport known as ‘formula one pylon air racing’ where the world’s best race pilots compete simultaneously to be the first one to cross the finish line.

Eight airplanes race directly against each other at speeds of over 400kph around a tight circuit just 1.5km end-to-end.

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