Pioneering aircraft development wings into Duxford with Faradair
Hybrid electric flight pioneer Faradair® is moving its UK headquarters to Duxford from Cirencester with a pledge to scale internationally and recruit heavily from its base in the Cambridge technology cluster.
The company has worked on the move in collaboration with the Imperial War Museum Duxford and Gonville & Caius College. It says the move will spark the rebirth of UK aircraft manufacturing.
With a unique wing configuration and ultra-quiet, sustainable propulsion system, with state-of-art avionics, the BEHA (Bio Electric Hybrid Aircraft) is a Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) aircraft that will offer affordable, quiet and green, regional air transport opportunity for all.
As an early pioneer of the new air mobility sector, Faradair® intends to revive whole aircraft manufacturing with a UK designed and developed aircraft, creating jobs and revenue not just for the local community but also internationally.
The quiet flight capability and advanced safety features of the aircraft, could also provide air commuters with a financially attractive and time saving alternative to expensive and congested land based alternatives.
The move to Cambridge will spark development of the company’s full-sized prototype aircraft – essentially a versatile ‘flying van’ – that can carry an unmatched payload capability of passengers, freight, equipment and a range of other utility roles in regions throughout the world.
The innovative aerospace startup has championed hybrid and electric flight opportunity since 2014, evolving the BEHA design from initial concept to commuter category aircraft with the support of angel investors and industrial and academic partners.
The multi-award winning company has attracted a strong advisory team and with the support of the IWM and neighbouring landowner Gonville & Caius College, it is now perfectly placed to scale-up and expand the core engineering team.
With first BEHA flight targeted for 2023/24 Faradair® is the first aviation company to join Gonville & Caius College and IWM’s ambitious new Duxford AvTech development which will create an aviation research and development facility at the famous airfield location, in alignment with many of the recently announced objectives set by the UK government.
The Government is committed to a ‘Green recovery’ from the COVID-19 pandemic, with specific mention and interest in sustainable air transport.
Faradair® secured the support of current Transport Secretary Grant Shapps back in 2018 who said: “Faradair® reminds us of our history in aerospace innovation and how we may rebuild aircraft manufacturing facilities from General Aviation airfields.
“I genuinely believe the Faradair® BEHA is an exciting opportunity for the UK in both civilian and non-civilian configuration and I hope we will see this new aerospace manufacturer grow, develop and create jobs with the appropriate backing and funding to prove that the UK can continue to design, and build world class, whole aircraft systems.”
Faradair® managing director Neil Cloughley said that moving to Duxford Airfield was “a dream come true for us at Faradair®. We are so excited by the opportunity ahead of us, made possible by the fantastic and enthusiastic staff at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and Gonville & Caius College.
“COVID-19 has highlighted the global opportunity for cleaner, quieter skies and more sustainable forms of transport, a vision our company has championed for many years now.
“It is such a privilege to be able to now call Duxford ‘home’, a site I have visited countless times as a child and even flown a vintage Tiger Moth from the venue more recently.
“IWM Duxford will now not only be a site of historical significance but also a site on which to showcase the ‘future’ of aerospace. We will create jobs and inspire the thousands of school kids that visit every year to take up STEM subjects with clear future employment opportunity with the company.
“In addition the opportunity to work in the innovation environment of Cambridge and with a college that has a superb plan for the Duxford Avtech development, is a genuine honour for us and we look forward to meeting local officials and potential new partners in the Cambridgeshire region.
“Whilst the aircraft will provide viable alternative to overcrowded and overpriced trains today in a civilian role, this sustainable utility aircraft will also perform non-civilian roles, providing increased capability, for better value operations.”
In Westminster, Faradair® also secured the support of former head of the Defence Select Committee – Dr Julian Lewis, who has been following and supportive of the programme and in 2019 was part of a meeting with then Secretary of State for Defence Penny Mordaunt, who is now Paymaster General within the Cabinet.
Dr Lewis says: “Whenever military aviation technology achieves a breakthrough, it has to overcome obstacles placed in its way by those lacking enterprise and vision.
“The innovative BEHA project has immense potential military and civil utility, and it is hugely encouraging that the relocation to Duxford has facilitated an important step in the BEHA development journey. History will thank those who have made this possible.”
Faradair® is the first company to be part of the ‘Duxford Avtech’ regional growth development programme proposed by Gonville & Caius College. Senior bursar Robert Gardiner said: “With the support of IWM, we have put forward a plan for a centre of excellence for UK aviation based on college land at Duxford.
“Soon after the invention of flying in the 20th Century some of its land became the airfield here. The 21st Century requires aviation to be more efficient and carbon-neutral and to help de-congest transport generally. The AvTech plan for general aviation, of which Faradair is an important first step, is aimed at just that.”