Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 7 December 2019

First Airbus E-racer on display at Dubai Airshow

The fully electric-powered aircraft can fly for around 12 minutes on a full charge

Team Condor aviation e-racer on display at Dubai Airshow. Courtesy Airbus
Team Condor aviation e-racer on display at Dubai Airshow. Courtesy Airbus

Five years ago the first Formula E race took place in Beijing, propelling motorsport towards a greener future. Now, the time has come for aviation's electric vehicles to take flight as the industry gears up to launch the Airbus Air Race E series.

Team Condor, one of the pioneering teams that will compete in the race, were on the tarmac at the Dubai Airshow today, Sunday November 17, showcasing the first Airbus model of an e-race aircraft.

Dubbed White Lightning 66, a nod to the nickname of pilot Andrew Chadwick who flew the aircraft before it turned electric, the 375-kilogram jet is now powered by a fully electric engine.

The jet is being designed by a team of eight engineers from Condor Aviation in the UK. The team have transformed the aircraft from a sport airplane into an electric-powered racing machine.

Dwarfed by many of the aircraft surrounding it at Dubai Airshow, the jet has a wingspan of 4.6 metres and is four metres in length. Pilots flying White Lightning 66 will need to meet strict height and weight restrictions and will sit under a glass canopy.

“It feels a bit like being in a goldfish bowl,” said Dean Speight, director of engineering at Condor.

Powered by a Contra-Electric twin-motor and contra-rotating propeller powertrain, the jet has continuous electric power for a short period of time.

“The problem we have today is that there’s no sensor on the market at the moment. We're relying largely on a stopwatch. We know we can run 12 minutes on a charge, so we’ll fly for around eight minutes, but then we have to come down," said Martyn Wiseman, Head of Team Condor.

Airbus hopes the first Air Race E will happen at the end of 2020 but that largely depends on how quickly technology advances.

Where the first race will happen is still undecided and the Air Race E series is currently seeking destinations around the world to act as host cities for the sport.

Updated: November 17, 2019 07:54 PM

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