A project managed by Cranfield University to advance electric aviation has achieved a significant milestone, with what is thought to be the first-ever flight by a British designed and built, all-electric conventional aeroplane.

After taxi tests and “low hops”, the single-seat Sherwood eKub made its first flight of 10 minutes and then a second flight later in the day of 22 minutes from Little Snoring airfield in Norfolk.

Huge step forward for electric aviation

The flights were piloted by Dr Guy Gratton, Associate Professor of Aviation and the Environment at Cranfield University and an Associate Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, who is also programme manager for the Enabling Aircraft Electrification (EnabEl) project.

Dr Gratton said: “The aeroplane flew very much as predicted from our analysis and ground tests; this is a new way of flying, and we’re at the start of a steep learning curve on electric flight. The support from everybody on the team, as well as colleagues, funders and authorities has been fantastic in making this possible. As a test pilot, an aeronautical engineer, and as a researcher, learning all about this new class of aeroplane is one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done.”

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