Airbus launches 5km circuit for the world’s first electric aircraft race

Airbus has announced a global partnership with Air Race E, the world’s first electric aircraft race, which is set to launch its inaugural series in 2020. The race will run similar to the popular Air Race 1 series, otherwise known as formula one air racing.

There will be eight electric-powered airplanes racing directly against each other on a tight 5-kilometre circuit, just 10-metres above the ground, at speeds faster than any land-based motorsport.

Grazia Vittadini, chief technology officer at Airbus, said: “We want to motivate manufacturers to showcase their technologies across the full spectrum of electric propulsion systems and components. This partnership enables us to demonstrate our commitment to staying at the leading edge of electric propulsion and developing a new ecosystem.”

The competition aims to encourage the development and adoption of cleaner, faster, and more technologically advanced electric engines that can be applied to urban air mobility vehicles and eventually, commercial aircraft.

Photo taken from the Air Race 1 event

Jeff Zaltman, Air Race E chief executive officer, said: “This partnership is a significant milestone in the evolution of electric power in aviation. Together, we’re working to create a mainstream platform in which innovation in electric propulsion can be developed, nurtured, and accelerated more rapidly.”

Airbus is the official founding partner of Air Race E. Airbus will work alongside other Air Race E partners, including the University of Nottingham. The University is currently developing a prototype race airplane powered by an integrated electric motor, battery, and power electronics system. The plane will help shape the model and rules for the inaugural Air Race E race in 2020.