World's first electric race plane unveiled

Airbus joins Air Race E racing series as founding partner which will see teams compete across the globe

Air Race E has unveiled the world’s first electric race plane.

FINN was there to witness the unveiling of the new aircraft, White Lightning at the Dubai Airshow. The aircraft will compete in the race series founded by international air racing promoter Jeff Zaltman. 

Eight teams from across Europe and the USA have signed up to compete in the first Air Race E event which will take place later this year. The teams include the UK’s Team Condor Racing, whose aircraft was unveiled at the show. 

Zaltman, CEO of Air Race E said: “We've actually been racing a sport called Formula One racing for many, many years, and taking that around the world as a great spectator sport. What we realized recently was we have an opportunity to make some real change and actually accelerate the technology and industry. So we decided to convert it to electric power and do electric racing.”

Technology developed in partnership with Airbus

Air Race E has been assisted with the conversion and adaptation to electric power by founding partner Airbus.

Zaltman explained: “Airbus has been a huge help. I mean, they're just really great with us. They're not specifically building a plane or entering a team, what they're doing is taking a holistic approach. And they're actually helping nurture the team, nurture the whole series, in fact, for all the teams, so they're allowing all the teams to develop their technology to accelerate the overall technology for the industry.”

He added that the new electric race planes have also been well received by environmental campaigners. “Actually, everyone's been embracing this. We've been received well, in all corners of all different industries."

He added: "Everyone has given us a really positive feedback, including environmental agencies, cities, post cities, of course. So we hope lots of cities will want this to come to their town. And we've become an excellent platform for the communication of people sustainability objectives.”

Racing planes help accelerate electric technology

Zaltman said the race planes may be small, but the switch to the new energy source would help accelerate technology for electric flight forward by 10 or 15 years. He said: “What's really fun is when you look at the first electric race plane that we have out here, it's a very small plane, it doesn't look like much. It looks really cool, but it doesn't look like a whole lot of technology. Actually, what we've agreed with Airbus is that in 30 years from now, 40 years from now, when we've got 200 passengers travelling in it by electric power and a meaningful distance, we'll be able to trace that technology in that plane and that Airbus, for example, all the way back to what we're doing here now with Air Race E.”

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