• Development of hybrid-electric propulsion into commercial aviation takes a significant step forward
  • UK set to lead the world with the first commercial passenger flights using electric aircraft
  • Industry-leading innovators: Denis Ferranti, Rolls-Royce, Cranfield University, Delta Motorsport, Britten-Norman and WMG (University of Warwick) collaborate with CAeS


Cranfield, UK, November 18th 2019

CAeS, a leading aircraft integrator in green commercial aviation, has received the backing of the UK Government for a project to develop electric aviation. Project Fresson has received a grant of £9 million to design, manufacture and integrate a hybrid-electric propulsion system into a 9-seat Britten-Norman (B-N) Islander aircraft, which is typically used on short flights such as island-hopping routes. The grant is provided through the ATI Programme: a partnership of the 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.

Mark Scully, Head of Technology for Advanced Systems & Propulsion at the ATI, said: “Project Fresson brings together a great partnership to develop innovative technology for a sustainable all-electric air transport solution for isolated islands. The partners’ ultimate goal of delivering the first commercial passenger-carrying all-electric aircraft service in the UK will mark a significant breakthrough for all-electric propulsion.”

Industry collaboration will fuel green transport revolution

The Project Fresson team includes 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; WMG (University of Warwick), who will perform battery testing and characterisation, and Britten-Norman, the aircraft OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) providing the baseline aircraft and aircraft data/design support. CAeS parent Cranfield University will be researching key technology solutions vital 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 (European Aviation Safety Agency/Civil Aviation Authority) certified modification kit, enabling the UK to lead the way with the first passenger-carrying sub-regional aircraft capable of all-electric flight. The strength of the industrial partners involved in this project, are underpinned by the world-class aerospace/manufacturing research capabilities of Cranfield University. This is going to accelerate our green transport revolution.”

The Fresson 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.

Alan Newby, Rolls-Royce, Director, Aerospace Technology & Future Programmes said: “We are excited to be involved in this project, which combines our commitment to support the de-carbonisation of aviation with our ability to solve complex problems with pioneering solutions. Project Fresson is another valuable opportunity for us to remain a leader in delivering the electrification of flight, an important part of our sustainability strategy.”

Professor Iain Gray, Cranfield University Director of Aerospace, said: “Cranfield University is recognised around the world for its Aviation Systems Integration capability and is focussed around research and development of zero-emission technologies. We are pleased to be a technology partner on Project Fresson which is at the forefront of turning the commercial use of electric aircraft into a reality.”

Following the demonstrator project, CAeS will go on to certify the modification through EASA to obtain a Supplemental Type Certificate. This will then be immediately available in the global market, allowing the current operators of the 400+ B-N Islanders to convert their aircraft reducing operating costs and their carbon footprint.

William Hynett, Chief Executive of Britten-Norman, said: “At Britten-Norman we are committed to innovation which we support through a dedicated Research & Development team. Our team is looking forward to working closely with Cranfield Aerospace Solutions and its other partners in driving forward this industry-leading green initiative programme for the electrification of the Islander.”

“Our aircraft makes an ideal launch platform for this programme due to its renowned reliability and adaptability. We remain highly enthusiastic about the prospects of bringing this important capability to our vitally important short-sector market.”

In follow-on phases of CAeS’s green aircraft strategy the intention is to design and implement a similar modification, this time to a larger existing 19-seat sub-regional aircraft type, continuing with partners to design and build a new 19-seat aircraft. The design of the new aircraft will be optimised for emission-free propulsion, making use of the certified propulsion systems architecture from the earlier phases.


For further information please contact:

Cranfield Aerospace Solutions. Media Relations, T: +44 (0) 1234 754046
Email: enquiries@cranfieldaerospace.com

ATI. T: +44 (0)7817 455409
Email: john.warehand@ati.org.uk

Denis Ferranti Group, Caernarfon Road, Bangor LL57 4SP
Email: sales@dfm-ltd.com

Rolls-Royce. T: +44 (0)7968 906469
Email: Sarah.Jones2@Rolls-Royce.com

Cranfield University. T: +44 (0) 1234 754999
Email: mediarelations@cranfield.ac.uk

Delta Motorsport. T: +44 (0)1327 858200
Email: enquiries@delta-motorsport.com

Britten-Norman. T +44 (0) 20 3371 4002
Email: pr@britten-norman.com

WMG. T: +44 (0) 24 7652 4721
Email:  Lisa.Harding@warwick.ac.uk


About Cranfield Aerospace Solutions
CAeS is a long-established aerospace company with whole aircraft concept design and EASA/CAA aircraft Design Organisation (DOA) and aircraft Production Organisation (POA) approvals. These capabilities and broad ranging approvals have been built up over more than twenty years, due to being sought out by all the major global aerospace OEMs to carry out modification and demonstrator projects for them.  The Company’s core strategy is focused on green aviation products, including: Electric Conventional Take Off and Landing (eCTOL) sub-regional aircraft and Electric Vertical Take Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft.

About the ATI Programme
The ATI Programme is a joint Government-industry investment to maintain and grow the UK’s competitive position in civil aerospace design and manufacture. The programme, delivered through a partnership between the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Innovate UK, addresses technology, capability and supply chain challenges.

About Rolls-Royce Holdings plc

  • Rolls-Royce pioneers cutting-edge technologies that deliver clean, safe and competitive solutions to meet our planet’s vital power needs.
  • Rolls-Royce has customers in more than 150 countries, comprising more than 400 airlines and leasing customers, 160 armed forces, 70 navies, and more than 5,000 power and nuclear customers.
  • Annual underlying revenue was £15 billion in 2018, around half of which came from the provision of aftermarket services.
  • In 2018, Rolls-Royce invested £1.4 billion on research and development. We also support a global network of 29 University Technology Centres, which position Rolls-Royce engineers at the forefront of scientific research.
  • The Group has a strong commitment to apprentice and graduate recruitment and to further developing employee skills.

About Cranfield University
Cranfield is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management. www.cranfield.ac.uk

 About Delta Motorsport
Delta Motorsport is an innovative and creative engineering business, based at the world-famous Silverstone circuit, in the heart of the UK’s high-performance technology cluster.

It focuses on three main product streams; battery systems, vehicle “platform” control and its in-house catalytic generator. Each is approached with the same robust but lightweight philosophy, honed through decades spent in the high-pressure motorsport sector.

Delta also has a vehicle engineering and integration capability that has seen it deliver many whole vehicle projects, for start-ups and OEMs alike. Its multidisciplinary team supports a wide range of sectors and its capability covers services from initial concept through to low volume production.

 About Britten-Norman and the Islander
Britten-Norman is the UK’s only EASA A2 approved aircraft manufacturer. Britten-Norman have designed and built aircraft and aircraft systems for over 60 years. The Britten-Norman Islander is one of the world’s most successful and enduring aircraft designs.

The aircraft’s international acclaim is attributed to its exemplary performance as a high capacity, multi-role, high frequency, rough terrain, short take-off and landing platform.

About WMG
WMG is a world leading research and education group transforming organisations and driving innovation through a unique combination of collaborative research and development, and pioneering education programmes.

As an international role model for successful partnerships between academia and the private and public sectors, WMG develops advancements nationally and globally, in applied science, technology and engineering, to deliver real impact to economic growth, society and the environment.

WMG’s education programmes focus on lifelong learning of the brightest talent, from the WMG Academies for Young Engineers, degree apprenticeships, undergraduate and postgraduate, through to professional programmes.

An academic department of the University of Warwick, and a centre for the HVM Catapult, WMG was founded by the late Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya in 1980 to help reinvigorate UK manufacturing and improve competitiveness through innovation and skills development.