The eight teams that will compete in the world’s first electric air race have been revealed, including three teams from the U.S., as well as teams from the UK, Canada, France, the Netherlands, and Germany.
“These eight teams really are at the cusp of innovation in the electric aviation space and will play an important part in creating cleaner future air travel,” said Air Race E CEO and Founder Jeff Zaltman.
The races will be a series of head-to-head contests, showcasing the skills, expertise and ingenuity of the best pilots and engineers from around the world, organizers said. Unlike similar racing events that operate on a time trial basis, Air Race E events will see eight planes fly simultaneously around a tight 5km circuit at just 10m above the ground and at speeds of up to 450 kph.
The customised electric motors will enable the planes to fly with a max continuous power set at around 150kW, according to the electric formula. Teams will make use of lithium batteries installed under the fuselage of their planes to provide power five minutes of high intensity racing and around 10 minutes of reserve flying at reduced power.
Locations of the races in the series are still being finalized, organizers add.
Air Race E Teams
Team Blue-BETA Racing (USA)
Team Leader: Kyle Clark
Team Blue-BETA Racing, based in Vermont, is a partnership between propulsion and control system company BETA Technologies and the advanced composites company Blue Force Technologies. Leading the team is Kyle Clark, CEO of BETA.
Now in development, Blue-BETA’s plane, which is currently known as BB-23, will feature a battery system comprised of pouch-type lithium ion cells assembled into a pack with a custom battery management system, derived from the company’s eVTOL program.
Team Möbius (USA)
Team Leader: Carl Copeland
Team Möbius, based in Fort Worth, Texas, is led by Carl Copeland, a serial entrepreneur and CEO of MμZ Motion, which produces custom, high-performance motion solutions for the robotics market.
With a life-long passion for aviation and aerospace, Copeland joined forces with fellow aviation enthusiast and pilot Christopher Williams to create Team Möbius.
For the first year of Air Race E, Möbius — named after the möbius strip infinity loop — plans to modify an existing formula one racer to use with their electric power system.
Their plane is still in the very early stages of development and has yet to be given a name, but the intention is to use a new type of electric motor, designed by MμZ Motion, that is smaller and lighter than current electric motors, according to officials.
In the future Möbius hopes to introduce a more customized aircraft with innovative profiles, control mechanisms and advanced propeller designs.
Team Allways Air Racing (USA)
Team Leader: Casey Erickson
Team AllWays Air Racing is based in California and has pilot and captain Casey Erickson at the helm. She is a certified flight instructor and has flown many different types of aircraft, including commercial fixed wing, helicopter and sUAS aircraft, and also has a private glider rating.
Having flown in aerobatics competitions, she was side-lined by a back injury, so in 2008 started racing in the biplane class at Reno. Casey also owns a formula one race plane.
After talking to a number of different aircraft designers, Casey and her team decided to work on a derivative of the Snoshoo, an American home-built formula one racer designed by Alan VanMeter and AJ Smith. The Allways Air Racing Snoshoo SR1.1 will be named “The Gulf Oil Racer” and is being developed at Redlands Airport, near San Bernadino.
The team is still in the initial assembly phase and plans to have a completed aircraft to begin engine runs in early spring 2020.
Team Outlaw (Canada)
Team Leader: Scott Holmes
Team Outlaw is bringing experience from formula one air racing to electric air racing. With pilot and Team Leader Scott Holmes in the cockpit, the Canadians are adapting a 1993 Cassutt to be able to fly with electric power.
Scott, who earned his pilot certificate at 17, has raced at Reno and with Air Race 1 in 2016, competing at the World Cup in Thailand and the China Cup in Wuhan.
Based at Villeneuve Airport in Edmonton, Scott has a close-knit team backing him on the project to turn his plane “Outlaw” — named because it doesn’t follow many of the airworthiness standards in Canada — into an electric air racer.
Team Scramasaxe (France)
Team Leader: Eric de Barberin-Barberini
Based at Aérodrome de Cuers-Pierrefeu in the southeast of France, Team Scramasaxe is led by Eric de Barberin-Barberini, a former fighter pilot who has set five aviation world speed records in his aircraft, Shark.
Team Scramasaxe, named after a short sword used in the early French Middle ages, is looking to build an electric plane derived from his award-winning Shark Ultra Light.
Currently named Scramasaxe E project in prototype, modifications include a tricycle landing gear incorporating a retractable front wheel, while the air foil will be modified to sustain speeds as high as 500 km an hour, according to officials.
Team Hangar-1 (Germany)
Team Leader: Adrian Schmer
Based at facilities in Oldenburg-Hatten and Leer-Papenburg in northern Germany, Team Hangar-1, named in conjunction with their main sponsor Flugwerft Hangar-1, is led by the company’s CEO Adrian Schmer, an aerobatics instructor.
Schmer’s team has a concept for their aircraft and are currently looking at the options of modifying a Cassutt IIIM or Sonerai I Formula Vee plane, integrating an electric engine made by Geiger Engineering. It will be called “Skyflash One,” named after their aerobatic flight school Skycrobatics.
Team NL (Netherlands)
Team Lead: Rick Boerma
When Rick Boerma heard about Air Race E, he created his own team to build a new aircraft, completely from scratch.
Boerma, a life-long aviation fanatic, started flying gliders at the age of 14 and, while studying aerospace engineering at university, began to dream of designing and building his own aircraft.
Now, that dream is turning into a reality, development has begun of the as yet unnamed plane, which has the moniker “Fanta” due to its orange color. The aircraft will feature a conventional low-wing design with two electric motors that power two contra-rotating propellers.
Team Condor Racing (UK)
Team Leader: Martyn Wiseman
Martyn Wiseman, managing director of Condor Aviation International, is the leader of Team Condor, based in Barlby, North Yorkshire, England.
Born and raised in Zambia, Martyn has been involved in aviation for over 20 years, initially as a hobby and, more recently, as a professional operation. His company, which specializes in R&D and aircraft modification, will use Air Race E as a platform to showcase its skills, as they help to develop green aviation technology.
For their electric air racer, Team Condor is modifying a Cassutt aircraft, revamping the engine cowling to incorporate items such as a contra-rotating propeller system, electric motors, inverters and radiators.
At their team headquarters, where they have their own airfield with a 600 m runway, their attention is focused on the battery technology and how they can integrate it into the aircraft.