Aircraft integrator in green commercial aviation CAeS has received the backing of the UK Government for its Project Fresson which aims to design, manufacture and integrate a hybrid-electric propulsion system into a nine-seat Britten-Norman (B-N) Islander aircraft.
Courtesy of CAeS
The Britten-Norman Islander is a twin-engine aircraft that is typically used on short flights such as island-hopping routes. The grant has been provided through the ATI Programme: a partnership of the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), the Department for Business, Energy & Industry Strategy, and Innovate UK to maintain and grow the UK’s competitive position in civil aerospace design and manufacture.
“Project Fresson brings together a great partnership to develop innovative technology for a sustainable all-electric air transport solution for isolated islands” said Mark Scully, Head of Technology for Advanced Systems & Propulsion at the ATI. “The partners’ ultimate goal of delivering the first commercial passenger-carrying all-electric aircraft service in the UK will mark a significant breakthrough for all-electric propulsion.”
Paul Hutton CAeS CEO added that the results of this exciting electric aircraft demonstrator project can be rapidly developed into an EASA/CAA (European Aviation Safety Agency/Civil Aviation Authority) 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.
The Project Fresson team includes UK businesses: Rolls-Royce, who will be supplying the power management system; the Denis Ferranti Group, supplying the electric motors; Delta Motorsport, providing battery packs; WMG (University of Warwick), who will perform battery testing and characterisation, and 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.
The Fresson project supports Rolls-Royce’s commitment to making aviation more sustainable. This electric flight technology demonstrator enables Rolls-Royce to introduce a new concept in aircraft-level power distribution control that optimises all the elements of the power and propulsion system.
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 the 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, continuing with partners to design and build a new 19-seat aircraft. The design of the new aircraft will be optimised for emission-free propulsion, making use of the certified propulsion systems architecture from the earlier phases.