17 February 2022
This summer students at the Norwich International Aviation Academy (IAA) will get the chance to build the first ever British electric light aircraft.
The aeroplane will be based on a prototype which has been built by NUNCATS, at their base at Old Buckenham Airfield, where it is being prepared now for test flights.
The project is a new partnership: NUNCATS provide the design and specialist support; the IAA at Norwich City College will provide the students; and NORSE and Saxon Air Flight Support will provide workshop and airside space for building and testing at the airport.
The project is the idea of Tim Bridge, a founder, and Engineering Director of NUNCATS, who said:
"This is a great step forward for sustainable, economical electric flight, as well as for the careers of the students. In the longer term we hope programmes like this will allow many more affordable light aircraft to be built in the UK and around the world."
Norse Group Aviation Academy Manager, Alan Rampling, said:
“This is a fantastic opportunity for students to get hands on experience, assembling, functionally testing, and witnessing their aircraft being flight tested. This zero-emissions aircraft project has already been a catalyst in bringing local aviation expertise to the academy. The aim will be to develop a ‘centre of excellence’ in electric aircraft training, ensuring the region is at the forefront of green technology in aviation’.”
Alex Durand, SaxonAir CEO comments
“We’re delighted to support an initiative which electrifies aviation as well as aircraft engineering careers”.
Saxon Air are also planning to instal a solar powered charging station at Norwich Airport, based on the system already operating at Old Buckenham. This will allow the aircraft to charge independently of the electricity grid, using only solar energy. NUNCATS are developing similar charging stations around the country to allow longer flights.
There is worldwide interest in low carbon flight, and a range of firms are experimenting with electric aircraft and most focus on expensive, high-end designs. The NUNCATS aeroplane is different: designed to be cheap and simple, for use by aid agencies in the developing world and by private pilots.
The company’s name explains its principles - No Unnecessary Novelty Community Air Transport System (NUNCATS). Rather than design something entirely new and untried, they are putting together a set of components – a kit form airframe, electric motor, batteries, and charging equipment – all of them already in use for other purposes. This speeds development time and reduces costs. As a Community Interest Company, they will plough back all profits into development and keeping the price down for aid agencies, and medical and rescue agencies in the developing world.
The International Aviation Academy trains young engineers to work on conventional big commercial aircraft. But electric power is likely to play a major part in aviation in the future. This project, a British first, gives young people in Norfolk a flying start to their careers, not only building a real aeroplane, but to get in on the ground of the technology of the future.
Contact for NUNCATS: Tim Bridge, Technical Director, NUNCATS tel:+44 7939 538140 email firstname.lastname@example.org
Unlike many electric aircraft experiments, the NUNCATS aeroplane is based on tested and established technologies. The airframe is a Zenith kit aircraft, with hundreds of aircraft already in use in the USA and around the world. The electric motor comes from Slovenia and is already in use in a certified "Light Sport" aircraft.
NUNCATS have built the airframe, modified it to replace the petrol engine with the electric motor, added batteries, and built the solar charging station which allows it to operate independently of the electricity grid. They plan to build a chain of solar charging stations to extend its reach
NUNCATS aims to provide a dependable lifeline for the world’s remote communities; to offer hands-on experience and STEM learning opportunities to people entering the aviation industry; and enable sports flyers to convert to cleaner, greener energy. They aim to make the aeroplane available, at modest cost, to aid and emergency agencies in developing countries, where there is plenty of sunshine, but little or no aviation fuel.
NUNCATS is a community interest company, based at Old Buckenham Airfield, and led by Tim and Helen Bridge, from Norfolk. Community interest companies are created to serve social and community purposes, using their profits for the public good.
The International Aviation Academy Norwich (IAAN Norwich) is a world class training centre located next to Norwich Airport that is designed to train the next generation of aviation professionals. It works in partnership with Norwich City College and KLM (UK) Engineering.
Saxon Air provides ground handling services to Norwich Airport from its dedicated Business Aviation Centre and hangar.
Old Buckenham is the home of NUNCATS, where the prototype Skyjeep had been built. Constructed as US Bomber Base in WWII, Old Buckenham is one of the UK’s 126 CAA Licensed Aerodromes and one of the UK’s busiest centres of General Aviation.