£9m govt grant for hybrid-electric B-N Islander

An hybrid-electric Britten-Norman Islander aircraft is to be developed with the help of a £9m UK government grant.

Cranfield Aerospace Solutions (CAeS), a commercial aviation engineering company, has been awarded the money by the UK government for Project Fesson to design, manufacture and integrate a hybrid-electric propulsion system into a 9-seat Islander The aircraft is typically used on short flights such as island-hopping routes.

The Project Fresson team includes various UK businesses:

  • Rolls-Royce, who will be supplying the power management system
  • Denis Ferranti Group, supplying the electric motors
  • Delta Motorsport, providing battery packs
  • WMG (University of Warwick), who will perform battery testing and characterisation
  • Britten-Norman, the aircraft OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) providing the baseline aircraft and aircraft data/design support.

CAeS parent Cranfield University will be researching key technology solutions vital for the 30-month project.

Paul Hutton CAeS CEO, said, “The results of this exciting electric aircraft demonstrator project can be rapidly developed into an EASA/CAA certified modification kit, enabling the UK to lead the way with the first passenger-carrying sub-regional aircraft capable of all-electric flight.

“The strength of the industrial partners involved in this project, are underpinned by the world-class aerospace/manufacturing research capabilities of Cranfield University. This is going to accelerate our green transport revolution.”

Following the demonstrator project, CAeS will go on to certify the modification through EASA to obtain a Supplemental Type Certificate. This will then be immediately available in the global market, allowing the current operators of 400+ B-N Islanders to convert their aircraft reducing operating costs and their carbon footprint.

In follow-on phases of CAeS’s green aircraft strategy the intention is to design and implement a similar modification, this time to a larger existing 19-seat sub-regional aircraft type.

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