Air Race E, the world’s first electric air racing series, unveiled at the Dubai Airshow a prototype of the electric-powered aircraft set to be flown in the league’s inaugural race, scheduled for late 2020. A highly modified Cassutt formula one racer, the aircraft features Contra-Electric’s twin motor contra-rotating propeller powertrain, providing continuous electric power.
The showing marks “the first time we have let anyone outside of our teams and partners under the hood of a race airplane to showcase some of the cutting-edge electric technology that will be in use during the series,” said Air Race E CEO and founder Jeff Zaltman.
The races, supported by founding partner Airbus (Stand 940; Pavilion P10), will comprise a series of head-to-head international contests, with eight airplanes flying simultaneously on a 5-km circuit at heights as low as 10 meters (33 feet) and speeds up to 450 mph.
Like motorsports, “It does have an inherent danger to it, so our top priority at all times is safety,” said Zaltman.
A tender for the first host city is underway, with the winning location to be named by December, according to organizers.
“Electrification is the enabler to decarbonize our industry,” said Sandra Bour Schaeffer, head of Airbus Group Demonstrators. The company believes that “Nurturing these race aircraft will help build up an ecosystem” to bring wider adoption of electrification in aviation, she said.
Eight international racing teams, with strong representation from North America and Europe, will compete in the race series; the electric race aircraft on display was built by the UK’s Condor Aviation, one of the teams.
The UK-based Light Aircraft Association is supporting development of the sport’s technical regulations as well as aircraft design oversight, and the league expects to receive sanctioning by the Formula Air Racing Association and French counterpart, the Association des Pilotes D’Avions de Formules, “soon.”