At the on-going Dubai Air Show, Air Race E, an air racing tournament backed by Airbus has unveiled an all-electric racing aircraft called White Lightning. The aircraft, made by Condor Aviation team, is billed as the “world’s first electric-powered sports aircraft.”
White Lightning is a modified Cassutt formula one racer, featuring Contra-Electric’s twin motor.
Powered by a fully-electric engine, the sports aircraft reaches a speed of around 482 km/h (300 mph) and makes various fancy moves at the super low altitude. The continuous power stroke will indeed reach 150 kW (200 hp) to meet the rules of the race.
White Lightning weighs around 375 kilograms and can fly just 10 meters above the ground. The 100 kg of lithium batteries (20 kWh) installed in the fuselage of the plane will provide power for five minutes of high-intensity racing and has enough power for around 10 minutes of reserve flying at reduced power.
The transition to the electric will gain cooling drag with an energy efficiency of 90% compared to 30% of an internal combustion engine; the delivered power is the same regardless of temperature and altitude.
A second electric racer is currently being developed by the University of Aeronautical Technology, Nottingham, as part of a research program on the propulsion modes of the future. The second racer is also a modified Cassutt. The goal of the project is to develop a “plug and play” system – including batteries, electric motor, and controller.
The Air Race E competition will not be officially launched until next year. For the first edition, eight teams will participate in events scheduled in Europe and North America.