EAG Launches 70-Seat Hybrid-electric Regional Aircraft

 - July 20, 2020, 10:07 AM
Electric Aviation Group says its HERA airliner will carry 70 passengers up to around 800 nm.

Electric Aviation Group (EAG) has announced plans for a 70-seat hybrid-electric regional airliner, which the UK group says will be ready to enter service in 2028. The Bristol, UK-based start-up unveiled its design on July 20 to coincide with the opening of the FIA Connect event.

According to EAG, the short takeoff and landing Hybrid Electric Regional Aircraft (HERA) will deliver range of up to 800 nm. The company says it expects to be able to offer an all-electric version of the narrowbody airliner by around 2030, as battery or alternative fuel technology permits.

The current design shows four sets of propellers across the leading edge of its fixed wing. EAG has not specified what type of engine it will use to generate electricity for HERA’s motors or how it will configure the propulsion system. It said that the aircraft will feature what it calls Gear Assisted Takeoff Run (GATOR) technology to support its unspecified short takeoff capability while reducing energy requirements.

According to EAG founder and CEO Kamran Iqbal, he has held talks with multiple leading aerospace suppliers that have expressed a willingness to partner in what EAG calls its JetZero Consortium. The group is unrelated to the UK government’s recently formed Jet Zero Council, established to advance plans for the development of zero-carbon airliners.

Iqbal told AIN the company intends to assemble a flight demonstrator aircraft based on an existing Bombardier Dash 7 or Dash 8 twin-turboprop, in order to evaluate its planned propulsion system. It expects to start flight tests with the aircraft within the next four years before building the airframe for the HERA.

EAG estimates that it will need $5 billion to get the HERA into series production. The company is looking to raise capital through a mix of government funding and private sector investors.

“Significant investments have been raised to develop sub-19-seat hybrid- and all-electric aircraft, which we believe is the wrong strategy,” said Iqbal. “These small planes cannot meet the demands of mass air transportation or the requirements of decarbonization.”

On July 17, UK-based Faradair announced that it will build its Bio Electric Hybrid Aircraft at Duxford airfield. The 18-seat fixed-wing design would enter service in 2026, offering range of up to 1,000 nm. The company also plans to introduce an all-electric version by 2030.

EAG claims to hold 25 patents for various technologies supporting the HERA design. Plans call for the aircraft to have a maximum takeoff weight of 55,000 pounds, speed of around 275 knots, and a takeoff field length of just under 4,000 feet.

“We expect this to be a great example of British design, engineering, and build,” said Iqbal. “Not only will the development of HERA help the [UK] Department for Transport accelerate its ‘Jet Zero’ carbon reduction goals, it will also help create much-needed job opportunities in the aerospace manufacturing, engineering, and services industries post-Brexit. This represents the future of both passenger and cargo flights internationally, and as an opportunity for investment it could not be better timed.”

Iqbal is an aeronautical engineer who worked for Airbus for 13 years and founded EAG in 2017. The company’s chief technology officer is Norman Wood, who also formerly worked with Airbus, where he was involved in wing design.