Two years ago FINN reported on the launch of a new electric aircraft race series Air Race E.
FINN reporter Bryn Lucas caught up with series founder Jeff Zaltman at the Dubai Airshow to find out how plans for the series had progressed as it moves towards the launch of the first worldwide all-electric air races in 2023. Zaltman said that although the last couple of years had been strange, along with the rest of the aerospace industry, that they had actually been “very fruitful and productive” for the race series.
“Covid has presented a number of challenges, admittedly not ones that I would have necessarily thought such as supply chain issues, even just raw materials for our batteries the components. The supply chain and the aerospace industry has been very disruptive.”
Covid disruption “given us time to reflect and re-engineer”
He added: “That has slowed us down but it’s also given us time to reflect and re-engineer some of our concepts which has been great and then, on the other side, we’re a sports series we’re a motorsport event so of course we’re looking for cities around the world to host events.”
“We think the world is right now in a perfect place for us to be able to relaunch and get back out there and present our sport to to the world.”
Air Race E has 17 teams around the world working to get to the flight stage with their aircraft. Zaltman said the Nordic team had achieved pole position in terms of development: “Very soon they’re going to be flying and doing the first test flight of an electric race plane that’ll be a huge milestone for us.”
“Making aerospace a zero-sum game in terms of carbon emissions”
Zaltman said there were still engineering and other challenges to tackle as the series moves into 2022, including ensuring the sustainability of a sport which could enable change within an entire industry.
He explained: “There’s a million other challenges we have to do as well to be able to achieve zero carbon emissions and the goal that we’re trying to get to is not just developing electric propulsion, it’s really making aerospace a zero-sum game in terms of carbon emissions. We’re trying to improve everything that we can for the environment and aviation has got a long way to go.”
Air Race E has also signed German engineering company Kasero, which will joining forces with the series to help with the integration process and design and development of a new set of ‘Performance Class’ electric race aircraft. Zaltman said the engineering partnership will enable the aircraft to be designed and developed in-house.