The first electric-powered commercial aircraft to be built in Brazil will use battery technology developed in Culham, Oxfordshire. OXIS Energy is working with light aircraft maker Texas Aircraft to develop its eColt electric plane using powerful, lightweight batteries manufactured at the OXIS factory in Juiz de Fora, Brazil.
Based on Texas Aircraft’s popular Colt S-LSA, the two-seater eColt will be used for regional transportation and flight training purposes. OXIS projects the batteries will deliver a flight time in excess of two hours with an approximate range of 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers).
OXIS has achieved this performance with its Lithium-Sulphur (Li-S) chemistry, which uses sulphur as a non-conductive material that offers safety and other advantages over the widely-used Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. The eColt’s 90kWh battery system, which is 40% lighter than current Li-ion technology will be powered by the OXIS “High Power” cell at 400Wh/kg.
The partners in the development of the eColt believe the aircraft will be well suited to the training of commercial airline pilots and, despite the fallout in the aviation industry from Covid-19, there still will be a growing worldwide shortage of commercial pilots in the coming decade, and the eColt will provide an efficient, clean mechanism for new pilots whilst substantially lowering training costs.
All of the aircraft’s key airframe and power components will be manufactured in Brazil, and design and development is at the Texas Aircraft manufacturing facility in Campinas, Brazil. The powertrain will be supplied by WEG of Jaragua do Sul. OXIS’s Juiz de Fora plant will supply the Li-S cells to the AKAER Group of San Jose dos Campos which will integrate them into a battery system with its Management System (BMS).
OXIS Energy CEO Huw Hampson-Jones said: “ OXIS Li-S technology offers significant benefits to aviation. This collaboration between OXIS Energy, Texas Aircraft, and two other forward-thinking Brazilian corporations will put Brazil at the forefront of designing, manufacturing and exporting the electrification of regional aircraft worldwide. The partnership will create highly skilled jobs throughout Brazil, and contribute to major exports both in products, services and expertise.”
Electric aircraft technology is developing rapidly as a route to reducing costs of fuel and maintenance, which together take up around 38% of airline costs, and carbon emissions. Their inherent simplicity compared to fuel-powered aircraft makes them compelling for operations requiring short journeys such as training and regional transport.