UK Startup Launches Hybrid Commuter Airliner


The 18-passenger STOL design from Faradair could reach the market by 2025

Plans call for the BEHA_M1H to have a cruising speed of over 200 knots (230 mph, or 370 km/h), and a range of over 1,000 nautical miles (1,852 km) depending on configuration(Credit: Faradair)

Founded in 2014, Cirencester headquartered Faradair Aerospace has developed BEHA (Bio Electric Hybrid Aircraft) to carry 18 passengers or be reconfigured to carry cargo.

The BEHA_M1H will have a 49-ft (15-m) wingspan(Credit: Faradair)

The BEHA_M1H uses a patented triple box-wing high-lift configuration designed to deliver Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) capability. Twin contra-rotating propfans housed in a noise-reducing acoustic duct provide the aircraft with vectored thrust for ‘safe, slow speed manoeuvring’. The company said it is targeting a take-off noise level of 60dba.

The BEHA_M1H’s body will be made from a carbon fiber composite material(Credit: Faradair)

“The BEHA M1H variant, multi-role aircraft, will allow operators the ability to provide viable air transport services including; scheduled commuting flights, flight training and charter by day and the ability to use the quiet flight characteristics and payload capability for cargo operations at night,” said Neil Cloughley, managing director of Faradair. “This opens market opportunities not served by existing aircraft, due to the lower noise signature and load capability.”

Solar panels on the wings help boost the BEHA_M1H’s batteries(Credit: Faradair)

In cargo-carrying mode, the aircraft will be capable of housing three LD3 cargo containers, with an internal payload capacity of five tonnes. The company claims that BEHA can be reconfigured in 15 minutes and that it is ‘in discussion with potential civilian and non-civilian customers for this class leading capability’.

A cut-away view of the BEHA_M1H’s seating(Credit: Faradair)

The aircraft’s hybrid propulsion system combines electric motors with a turboprop engine, which is expected to lead to lower operating costs, lower emissions and increased safety redundancy. The aircraft will use existing battery technology for emergency power and ground operations.

In 2018, Faradair secured the support of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for General Aviation with 172 MP members lead by Grant Shapps.

Within a claimed 15 minutes, ground crews will reportedly be able to replace the BEHA_M1H’s seats with three of the company’s LD3 cargo containers, for a combined capacity of 5 tonnes (5.5 US tons)(Credit: Faradair)

“The prospect of hybrid-electric flight and the ability for people throughout the UK and around the world to fly regionally as simply as taking a bus, is a future that opens up so much regional growth benefit opportunity” said Shapps. “I genuinely believe the Faradair BEHA is an exciting opportunity for the UK, both in civilian and non-civilian configuration and I hope we will see this new British Aerospace manufacturer grow, develop and create jobs with the appropriate backing and funding to prove that the UK can continue to design and build world class, whole aircraft systems.”

Looking forward, Faradair said it intends to offer a fully electric powered variant of the BEHA as battery technology evolves.

Target specifications:

  • All carbon composite configuration
  • 1600hp Turboprop (JetA or Biofuel capable)
  • Hybrid propulsion system including 500+KW electric motor for reduced fuel burn and increased safety
  • 15-minute duration battery for all electric propulsion
  • 1000+nm range depending on configuration
  • Wing hard-points for external payloads
  • 49ft (15m) Wingspan
  • Take-off and landing distance less than 300 meters
  • Vectored thrust for safe, slow speed manoeuvring
  • Cruise Speed 200+kts (230mph/370kph)
  • Forecasted cost = $4m

Source: Faradair