There are dynamics that have prevented the mass use of highly regional airflight for decades. American Airlines just announced they will join United Air and others by luxury bussing passengers from Philadelphia to places like Atlantic City and Lancaster PA. There are many reasons for the lack of quality regional air travel hubs, imagine noisy planes trying to land in a wealthy area in Sonoma or The Hamptons.
It’s unlikely that local residents would want it or most normal people could afford the current methods for local flying to small or regional airports. If you had a near silent model (Tesla quiet) based on environmentally positive fuel types (electric for example), a different OPEX cost envelope that radically reduced overall costs and a new design you could change the nature of flight. Imagine opening up the skies for $30 flights to and from the 5,700 regional airports in the US versus having to drive for five hours to get somewhere. This type of certified solution will open up whole new global markets as part of our new daily lives – a true Greyhound bus for the skies. The company, Faradair is based in Droxford in the UK in the air hangar that housed the very first Spitfire squadron in the second world war and was where Frank Whittle the inventor or the jet engine had learned to fly and work from 1929.
Neil Cloughley is the CEO of Faradair aerospace his ideas about opening up airspace to the idea of the greyhound in the sky that is quiet, operationally far lower cost and environmentally eco-friendly promises. that will use many existing technologies without having to reinvent a lot.
Here are six insights from the podcast.
· Moving from a duel to a single power system that does not need $10M of costs (per 30,000 flight hours) on lifetime engine repair could shift the economics of regional flight.
· Imagine being able to book a seat on a local plane on your cell phone to fly 200 miles and be out of your house and out of the arrival airport in less than two hours for just the cost of a monthly Netflix subscription.
The engineering solution Faradair is recommending is an evolving architecture that takes progressive advantages of shifts in automotive software and aviation certified capabilities. This makes the next steps practical and not just aspirational. Some of these ideas date back as far as thirty years (tri wings , MQ1 Predator).
· Currently only 10% of the 5,700 US regional airfields have commercial business that is about $134bn in economic activity. With a low-cost human and cargo air system n place that could grow ten-fold very quickly to over $1tr.
New digital twin and simulation capabilities means that these new design dynamics (tri wing, low level, electric) can be tested and modeled far faster than the traditional wind tunnel approaches.
· This type of low cost, environmentally clean approach that should be easy and local could for the first time put pressure on the automotive industry.
As video conferencing became the norm for communications in Covid, low cost, environmentally friendly drive systems for aircraft that could enable regional travel could have the same disruptive affect on transportation. Doing this through a set of logical and connected way points (electric power systems, low level flying under 10,000 ft and focusing on regional airports) could make this the next Zoom.
Faradair is developing a hybrid-electric aircraft concept that solves three core problems hindering regional flight growth: noise, operation costs and emissions with a clean-sheet design aircraft specifically configured for hybrid-electric flight, BEHA aims to achieve significant reductions in these areas whilst Delivering an economically viable regional air transport solution.