DESIGNING A SUSTAINABLE AIRCRAFT

The future of a hybrid electric passenger flight

  Sustainable Transport   
  Concept Design   
  Rendering & Visualisation  

Sector: Sustainable Transport

THE DESIGN CHALLENGE + THE IMPACT DELIVERED

The Electric Aviation Group (EAG) needed an aerodynamically feasible concept visualisation that was both technically viable and compelling enough to help secure major investment for HERA – the world’s first zero-emissions aircraft for short-haul regional flights.

The concept designs have been instrumental in communicating EAG as a company with expertise and patents to a credible aircraft manufacturer. They have since secured high profile meetings with the UK Government and attracted interest from leading industry partners to form their Jet Zero Consortium.

The art of visualisation:

How to sell a product before it’s made

Developing sustainable air travel is one of the most urgent and difficult challenges facing aviation. There is growing pressure on the major aircraft manufacturers such as Boeing and Airbus to respond with meaningful innovation. But as with Tesla in the car industry, new players like Electric Aviation Group (EAG) are needed to truly disrupt the status quo.

Introducing HERA – a possibility that needed a body

EAG has been innovating across the whole aircraft system to come up with a comprehensive package of technologies that collectively form the basis of their concept Hybrid Electric Regional Aircraft (HERA). It is the first aircraft design of its kind to be able to carry 70+ passengers on short-haul regional journeys. It includes over twenty patents covering technologies such as mixed gas turbine and electric power, energy recovery on landing and fast recovery battery systems with aerodynamically lower drag features.

Their next-stage challenge is raising the funds to develop a HERA demonstration. To do this they needed compelling visuals to share the vision and business potential to investors. It had to be inspiring, but more than just good-looking pictures. It had to grab attention but withstand scrutiny. The real challenge was that not only did EAG need imagery, they hadn’t yet designed the full concept and Realise needed to design a viable structure for the aircraft body.

Hybrid Aircraft Design
Realise Concept Design

Designing for laws of aerodynamics:

Inspired by nature

Being able to talk the right technical language in any project is important, but it is crucial to having productive conversations in highly technical situations. The team at Realise includes mechanical engineers as well as product designers. And with a background in Naval Architecture, our founder, Andrew Redman, understands hydro and aero-dynamics – his grandfather was one of the first navy pilots to fly off a ship and helped organise the first flight over Everest.

With this expertise, we were quickly able to model design options around the arrangements of EAG technology and the aerodynamics of stability and drag factors. For example, four different tail fin designs were analysed for efficiency as well as aesthetic, with the ‘U-tail’ being selected. The U-tail took inspiration from the way nature has evolved bird tails, simplifying it into just two main horizontal stabilisers that reduce the tip vortex drag and reduce the area of a wing needed for flight.

Concept electric aircraft

Pictures are worth a thousand words

Once the final aircraft concept was agreed, we needed to convey it as both inspirational and industry-ready. Competitor analysis clearly showed that ‘white striped planes’ on blue skies was the over-riding norm. HERA needed to be accepted as credible, but also to stand-out and incorporate the EAG liveries. Somewhat like dressing a fashion model, we had to create a luxury and contemporary look whilst enhancing HERA’s unique shape. At the same time, we reviewed sky scene images to find the right one as we sketched and storyboarded to present HERA at its very best in CAD renders and highly polished Photoshop images.

EAG received exactly what they hoped for, and more, with the final images being instrumental to communicating the potential in HERA, and elevating EAG from a company with expertise and patents, to being a viable manufacturer of future aircraft solutions.

hybrid aircraft

Securing investment and interest

An additional benefit of our CAD designs is being able to create new images quickly for tailored pitches that present HERA to investment partners in their own custom livery. For example, ahead of the 2020 Farnborough International Airshow, the UK Government announced the Jet Zero Council – a coalition of Ministers, businesses, trade bodies and environmental groups working to align the aviation sector with the 2050 net-zero carbon target. At EAG’s request, we visualised HERA emblazoned with the British flag, reinforcing the potential to support the UK’s ambitions. This has helped secure high profile meetings, and attract leading industry players such as GE Aviation to EAG’s own consortium of expert partners.

With a team that loves to travel but is equally concerned about Climate Change, Realise are excited to be building a positive relationship with EAG, and together using our creativity and knowledge for a truly meaningful contribution towards a sustainable future.

Electric aircraft renders
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