How is the plane progressing?
Team Magpie have recently frozen the Outer Mold Line (OML) of the aircraft and are beginning the detail design phase. They intend to proceed with the construction phase in early July.
Their first aircraft, the UR-1, is a single-seat, single engine, v-tail, conventional gear aircraft, and is a fairly restrained design. Future aircraft will feature progressively more advanced and innovative concepts, such as A-tails, Distributed Electric Propulsion, and potentially even tailless designs utilizing propulsive controls.
Our pilot and Chief Engineer, Marc Umbricht is a true aviation enthusiast. Mr. Umbricht passed his commercial pilot licence in 2017 at Horizon Swiss Flight Academy in Zurich. He was then employed as a First Officer on Saab 2000 by Darwin Airlines until its dissolution. Mr. Umbricht took this opportunity to start his aviation engineering studies at WPI in the USA in 2018. Perceiving the maturation of certain electrical technologies that provide significant advantages to aeronautics, he decided it was time to pursue his dream and found Pie Aeronefs SA to help advance the science of flight.
What are you most looking forward to about Air Race E?
We believe that Air Race E is a wonderful opportunity to test our design concepts in a competitive environment, allowing us to hone our skills. The technologies we perfect today in Air Race E will be in the aircraft we sell tomorrow.
How does the battery system work on your plane?
Our electrical system is custom designed by our partners at LZ-Tec s.r.o. The main battery pack is comprised of lithium-polymer cell stacks which provide the immense power necessary to run our Emrax 348 motor. Battery information is displayed directly to the pilot, who can direct power output with a simple thrust control lever. If desired, the pilot can even use regenerative braking to recharge the batteries in flight.
What is the standout feature of your plane?
The most striking feature of our first aircraft, the UR-1, is the V-tail design. This reduces “Interference Drag”, a parasite drag phenomenon caused when two aerodynamic surfaces intersect such as in an aircraft tail. By reducing the number of tail surfaces, we reduce the number of intersections and thus drag.
How big do you think Air Race E will be in the future?
We think that the race will have a lot of visibility and especially if countries committed to the environment participate as hosts, the repercussions will be very favourable. A typical example is Switzerland : Geneva is host to many of the world’s NGOs. If one day the Air Race E is held in Switzerland, we will not only enjoy an idyllic landscape during the races but also the visibility of the world’s leading green-energy organisations.
New Technologies, such as high-power, low-mass electric motors are enabling the development of electric vehicles in racing and aerobatic aviation. They have always had a very advantageous power-to-weight and power to price ratio compared to their combustion-powered counterparts. But above all they provide a dramatic reduction in noise pollution and a complete elimination of emissions.
Air Race E will play a key role in the popularisation of these technologies and will push the development of electric aviation in the not too distant future.