First flight for British-built electric aircraft developed at Cranfield University

The electric aircraft made its first flight from Little Snoring airfield.
The electric aircraft made its first flight from Little Snoring airfield. Credit: The EnabEl consortium

An electric aircraft developed at Cranfield University has made its first flight.

The single-seat Sherwood eKub took off from Little Snoring airfield in Norfolk.

The people behind the project say it is the first ever flight by a British designed and built electric aeroplane.

The plane made a flight of 10 minutes and then a second flight of 22 minutes.

The flights were piloted by Dr Guy Gratton, Associate Professor of Aviation and the Environment at Cranfield University.

Dr Gratton said: “The aeroplane flew very much as predicted from our analysis and ground tests; this is a new way of flying, and we’re at the start of a steep learning curve on electric flight.

"The support from everybody on the team, as well as colleagues, funders and authorities has been fantastic in making this possible.

"As a test pilot, an aeronautical engineer, and as a researcher, learning all about this new class of aeroplane is one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done.”

The electric aircraft flew for 10 minutes on its first flight and 22 minutes on its second flight. Credit: The EnabEl consortium

Paul Hendry Smith, Managing Director of The Light Aircraft Company, which built the eKub and from whose Little Snoring site the aeroplane was test flown, said: “This is clearly a milestone in electrically powered flight and we are delighted to be at the cutting edge.”

Dr Thomas Delaney, project electrical engineer and Cranfield Research Fellow, said: “One of the key outcomes of the project so far is the work that has been undertaken in the background to facilitate the development and operation of all-electric aircraft.

"The eKub has been developed as a learning platform so that the project outcomes can now directly advise microlight builders and aviation regulators on both design best practice and new certification standards for the new era of electrified flight.”

EnabEl is building two all-electric aeroplanes and the eKub flights will be followed by testing of a larger two-seat electric Skyranger Nynja Aircraft being built at Flylight Airsports' base of Sywell Aerodrome in Northamptonshire.