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Big step forward for electric aviation as world’s first all-electric airplane race is announced

Air Race E will use electric aviation technology that is being tested by the likes of Roll-Royce, Airbus and Siemens for commercial aircraft

 

Air racing is set to be revolutionised after plans were unveiled for the world’s first all-electric airplane race.

Leading companies in electric aviation manufacturing have been invited to tender to become a founding technical partner of the new international motorsport series Air Race E.

It will act as a test bed for electric aviation, one of the fastest-developing technological areas and regarded as the third generation of aviation by the likes of Roll-Royce, Airbus and Siemens – which are leading the way in technical development of commercial electric planes in this fast-paced research and development-intensive industry.

The series, set to launch in 2020, will be run by Air Race Events and led by world-leading air racing promoted Jeff Zaltman, who also founded the Air Race 1 World Cup, alongside a team of leading authorities in the sport.

Air racing, electric aviation
Air racing

Driving development and promotion of cleaner and faster electric aircraft

Mr Zaltman said: “We are thrilled to announce the world’s first and only all-electric airplane racing championship.

“Air Race E has secured all the key components to make this vision a reality – the airplanes, the race pilots, the engineers, the sports associations, a test centre in Europe, and the racing heritage and expertise that is unrivalled in the world.

“We are now just looking for the best power plant and electrical systems for the job.

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“Air Race E will become the unifying body that will drive the development and promotion of cleaner and faster electric aircraft.”

Air Race E will involve electric airplanes racing directly against each other on a very tight circuit just above the ground at speeds faster than any land-based motorsport.

Air racing, electric aviation
Air Race E chief Jeff Zaltman

Formula Air Race planes, classified as “experimental”, are the only aircraft in the world designed specifically for racing and built to a specific race formula.

The demand for speed, performance and power management under the rigours of a competitive race environment provide the perfect platform for the development and promotion of cleaner, faster and more technologically advanced electric engines.

 

Next generation of Formula One pylon air racing

Air Race E is to be sanctioned by the official Formula Air Racing Association (FARA) and Association des Pilotes D’Avions de Formules (APAF), the two formula air racing governing bodies, upon launch of the series.

It will follow a similar format to Formula One air pylon racing, a sport in which the world’s best race pilots compete simultaneously to be the first one to cross the finish line.

Eight airplanes race directly against each other at speeds of more than 250mph around a circuit of just 1.5km end-to-end.

Air racing, electric aviation
Air Race E will include electric aircraft when it launches in 2020

Des Hart, president of FARA, said: “Formula Air Racing has a rich history as the fastest and most innovative international motorsport and Air Race E will allow us to continue that story and give us the global platform to take air racing into the next generation and beyond.

“It is crucial that we have a structure like Air Race E in place to provide the leading edge to development while propelling the sport and inspiring audiences.

“The electric revolution is poised to change aviation and Air Race E will play an important role in the advancement of technology.”

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Future of electric aviation is now

Dominique Milcendeau, president of APAF, added: “There is no doubt that air racing has been significant in aircraft and engine designs and in technological developments.

“The Schneider Trophy, the Reno Air Races, the Gordon Bennet Trophy and the Cleveland Races ring in the mind of pilots but also engineers worldwide.

Air racing
Air Race E logo

“The future of electric aviation is now and Air Race E will enable the link between the world’s greatest technicians and air racing teams in a global competition offering an opportunity to showcase and test the technological advances of the electrical propulsion domain.”