Successful ground testing for all-electric race plane

Researchers at the University of Nottingham have tested an electrified racing aeroplane that could establish the viability of faster and more efficient electric flight.

The research project, which began in 2018, aims to demonstrate the concept of electric-powered plane racing; pushing the limits of electric propulsion to increase energy efficiency and cut emissions in the aviation industry.

The project has been funded by the Propulsion Futures Beacon of Excellence, directed by Professor David Grant in collaboration with Air Race E, a pioneering electric air race series, to investigate alternatives to the use of fossil fuels in global transportation systems.

The Cassutt III petrol-powered single-seater racing aircraft provided by Air Race E has been converted to run on electrical power. The airframe has been adapted to fit the integrated electric motor and other supporting power electronic systems such as cooling systems, pilot interface and controls. Additional supporting structures have also been developed to house the batteries, which provide the motor with enough energy for the race mission.

Project lead Professor Michael Galea, an expert in electric machines and drives, said: “Electric flight is one of the fastest developing technological areas and is seen as the third-generation of aviation. The rigours of air motorsport, with its demand for speed, performance and power management, has provided us with the perfect conditions to develop and promote cleaner, faster and more technologically advanced electric motor drives.

“Our drive has been fully lab tested to its rated speed and power, and a custom-control system has been developed to start the motor and control the speed from within the cockpit. A significant amount of time has been spent on getting the motor operating and communicating with the motor management system, a process which involved understanding, programming, connecting, and tuning all control systems.

“Our main design challenge has been to retrofit the electrical systems into the plane in place of the existing aircraft engine. The batteries take up a large volume in the nose of the plane and there is limited space to fit the battery housing, control circuitry and main power cables within. This must be achieved whilst maintaining a similar weight distribution and centre of gravity to the original plane.

“The challenge of fitting everything together inside the existing engine bay and achieving a similar weight distribution was overcome using 3D CAD models of the airframe and electrical systems to assess the best fit and stress analysis of the supporting airframe structure to check it would support the motor.”

Jeff Zaltman, CEO of Air Race E, said: “It is fantastic to see the truly amazing work being carried out by the team at the University of Nottingham as our collaboration continues to advance aviation technology.

“We are all incredibly excited about this project and to see the successful ground tests completed was a big milestone in our push to develop alternative transportation systems. I would like to congratulate everybody involved, and I can’t wait to see what else we can achieve together.”

The electric plane has been tested in-situ at an East Midlands aerospace engineering partner facility and it will be used as a static demonstrator at aerospace events, with the potential to be flight tested in the future.

The Advanced Composites and Engineering Centre was attended by the President of the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Chief Executives of the HVMC and NCC.

A great attendance from aerospace companies including Spirit and supply chain companies such as Denroy Plastics and Nacelles Systems Consultancy among others helped celebrate the relaunch

of Northern Ireland Advanced Composites and Engineering Centre (NIACE)


Innovate UK, through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, invites applications for strands 1 and 2 of the future flight challenge. This supports projects that will develop and demonstrate integrated aviation systems and new vehicle technologies that enable the introduction of new classes of electric or autonomous air vehicles. These could include drones or unmanned aircraft systems, advanced air mobility vehicles, or sub-regional electric or hybrid passenger aircraft. Funding is available across two strands:

•strand 1 – for projects focusing on the demonstration aspects of novel classes of electric or autonomous air vehicles and systems, with total budgets worth between £500,000 and £15 million over a period of 12 to 24 months;

•strand 2 – for projects focusing on developing enabling technologies and cross-cutting systems that support the deployment of novel air vehicles in UK airspace, with total budgets of between £500,000 and £4m over a period of between 12 and 24 months.

All proposals must be business focused and involve an SME.

  • Closing date 03 Nov 21
  • Deadline information Applications are invited between 6 September and 11am, 3 November 2021. This call is repeated once a year.
  • Date added 23 Aug 21
  • Award type Research calls for business; Directed grants to institutions, research groups etc; Technology innovation/development
  • Award amount max £10,500,000
  • Award amount min £125,000
  • Average award amount —
  • Award budget total £65,000,000
  • Applications per institution —
  • Consortium requirements Required

For more details 


Event – Online

24 Aug 2021 09:30:AM

The Organiser

ATI & ADS Scotland

More Info

Chris Gear – FlyZero Project Director

Over the past six months the FlyZero team, made up of experts from across UK aerospace and beyond, have been thoroughly investigating the technologies which have the potential to propel the next generation of aircraft into our skies. After assessing a range of options, we’re focusing our energy on the technology bricks required to make liquid hydrogen and battery electric flights a reality and we’ll soon publish a paper on primary fuel sources to share some details behind our initial findings.

Next FlyZero webinar at 3pm on Thursday 23rd September where I’ll be joined by members of the team to share an update on our zero-carbon mission. I look forward to seeing you there.

3rd August 11.00 – 12.30

You’re invited to attend the Future Flight Challenge Ambition event where the team at Innovate UK will set out the ambition for Phase III of the competition.

The Future Flight Challenge (FFC) is a £125m government investment delivered by UKRI to advance the next generation of aviation solutions. Phase III of the competition is set to launch in autumn 2021: in readiness, Innovate UK will set out the ambition for the next phase of the programme at this online event.

If you are currently delivering a Future Flight Challenge project, or you are considering applying for the first time, it is highly recommended you attend this webinar to enable you to develop your project ideas.

During the session you will hear from Innovate UK’s Future Flight team and the CAA, you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and you can book 1-2-1 meetings with other delegates via KTN’s Meeting Mojo platform.

To reserve your place, follow the book here






2pm on Tuesday 27th July                                     

In this one hour session, supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and Economic and Social Research Council, the Future Flight team will take you through:

  • What the Future Flight Challenge at UKRI is all about
  • What it’s looking for from academia
  • How you can get involved in the upcoming Phase 3 of the challenge

If you would like to attend, please register on the Eventbrite page here:

The £300 million Future Flight Challenge from UK Research and Innovation aims to kick start the third revolution in aviation and enable the UK to build, use and export new, greener ways of flying by:

  • Evolving air space management systems
  • Designing new infrastructure concepts
  • Creating cyber-secure / connected digital systems
  • Developing new business models

To make this a reality we need help from industries and expertise in addition to aviation and aerospace. We’re looking for specialists in sectors including:

  • architecture
  • communications technology and infrastructure
  • cyber security
  • digital systems
  • meteorological and microclimates
  • socio economic and end user integration
  • urban and rural planners
  • plus input from many other sectors.

Please see the following webpages for more information on the Future Flight Challenge:

Applications are now invited from suitably qualified candidates for a University Lectureship in Propulsion and Power.

The successful candidate will be based at the Whittle Laboratory in West Cambridge.

The closing date for applications is Sunday 1 August 2021

Application details

The University of Nottingham has been awarded £7.6 million towards the development of the £16.8 million test and validation facility for aerospace electric and hybrid propulsion systems. The new award will see the commissioning of 10 new fully instrumented test cells able to validate a range of MW-class motor and generator drivetrains to cover aircraft platforms from                                                                                 UAM to SMR.


The open-access test facility will allow for greater collaborative research across the UK-ARC partnership as well as support UK based industry partners in their development programmes. The facility will be hosted within the new Power Electronics and Electrical Machines Centre at the University of Nottingham.


Business east Midlands Link

15th – 17th November 2021

2nd European Conference on Crashworthiness of Composite Structures

The ECCCS-2 conference aims to promote the dissemination and exchange of scientific information on the crashworthiness of composite structures. It provides and excellent forum for combining academic research and industrial works to examine crashworthiness of composite structures, as experimentally, as numerically in a wide range of domains such as aeronautics, space, automotive, sport ….

flyer ECCCS-2