Cranfield Aerospace Solutions announces £9m UK government grant to develop electric flight

Cranfield Aerospace Solutions (CAeS) has received a £9m grant from the UK Government for a project to develop electric aviation. Project Fresson will design, manufacture and integrate a hybrid-electric propulsion system into a nine-seat Britten-Norman Islander aircraft, which is predominantly used on short, island-hopping flights. The grant is provided through the ATI Programme: a partnership of Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), the Department for Business, Energy & Industry Strategy, and Innovate UK to maintain and grow the UK’s competitive position in civil aerospace design and manufacture.

The Project Fresson team will include UK businesses: Rolls-Royce, who will be supplying the power management system; the Denis Ferranti Group, supplying the electric motors; Delta Motorsport, providing battery packs; University of Warwick, who will perform battery testing and characterisation, and Britten-Norman , the aircraft OEM providing the baseline aircraft and aircraft data/design support. CAeS parent Cranfield University will research key technology solutions for the 30-month project.

Paul Hutton CAeS CEO, said: “The results of this exciting electric aircraft demonstrator project can be rapidly developed into an EASA/CAA certified modification kit, enabling the UK to lead the way with the first passenger-carrying sub-regional aircraft capable of all-electric flight. This is going to accelerate our green transport revolution.”

The Freeson project supports Rolls-Royce’s commitment to making aviation more sustainable. This electric flight technology demonstrator enables Rolls-Royce to introduce a new concept in aircraft-level power distribution control that optimises all the elements of the power and propulsion system.

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