Dominic Zoltowski - Travel Radar
Travel Radar recently had the opportunity to attend Foresight Aerospace 2020, a live virtual conference on sustainable aviation. Despite the current climate in the aviation industry, the mood at Foresight 2020 was bullishly positive. A wide array of industry pioneers had the chance to showcase their vision of the future with some extraordinary machines to combat aviation's emissions. Whilst the argument between electric and hydrogen power rages on, hybrid technology seems to offer a real and immediate solution to regional sustainable aviation.
The challenge of sustainable aviation is that the technology needed to replace current engine technology is still some way away. Aviation contributes just four percent of global emissions but, as other industries advance this percentage will grow. Electric batteries are still too heavy for practical use and hydrogen technology is still not advanced enough. Hybrid aircraft may be the answer. Two manufacturers at Foresight 2020 are pioneering this technology.
Voltaero's beautiful Cassio hybrid design will fly up to ten people 1200km, at speeds of up to 370km/h. The aircraft will have a forward canard, a mid-mounted wing, and a twin fin high tail, with single propeller powered by an internal combustion engine and electric motors. It is expected to fly for 200km on electricity only, up to 600km using both electric and its combustion engine, and up to 1200km on its combustion engine.
Faradair's BEHA hybrid will be able to carry 18 passengers, or five tonnes of cargo and take off from runways of any surface in an extraordinary 300 metres. The aircraft's propulsion system consists of electric and turboprop engines giving it a cruising speed of around 230 mph. This extraordinary aircraft may be the future of regional flying and the very first commercially viable example of sustainable flight.
All of the manufacturers at Foresight 2020 showcased extraordinary technology. However, only hybrid technology offers a viable solution in the near future for aviation. It may not hold the solution to large scale transport but it will be a step in the right direction. Sustainable flight may seem like a long way away, but the future of environmentally friendly flight is on the horizon.