When Ross Smith piloted his Vickers “Vimy” to victory in the 1919 England-Australia Great Air Race, he created headline news around the world. Only 16 years after the Wright Brothers, Smith had flown to glory.
Next year, in 2019, the opportunity to emulate this heroic feat is open to the public. The aircraft used must utilise 21st century electric motor technology; be it batteries, solar cells, fuel cells, or ultra capacitor variants.
Are Battery-electric powered aircraft our answer to the problems associated with conventional fossil fuel burning aircraft? Modern battery technology has given us everything from telegraphs and telephones to portable computers, mobile phones, electric planes and electric cars.
It is anticipated that by 2050 all vehicles will be “clean” (gasoline and diesel will be replaced by battery fuel). However, we still have a long way to go! Globally, there are over 2,000 companies that are currently perfecting their own versions of battery related production. Billions, not millions, of dollars are involved. It is likely that many of these companies will no longer exist in 10 years time if they back the ‘wrong horse.’
The jury is still out. What will be the ‘right horse’ in this billion-dollar race? Solid State? Hydrogen? Lithium? Hybrids? Or something else?
This makes the 2019 E (Efficiency) Race from England to Australia an opportunity for aviation and battery related firms to leap ahead by proving that their specific technology is the answer—maybe the ultimate answer. Entrants to the 2019 E-Race thus have a unique challenge ahead. The reward, should they be successful, would be global publicity.
How exciting if history is repeated next year—21st century style!
This article is part of a continuing series on 21st century aircraft efficiency. For more information and articles on the 1919 Great Air Race and the Centenary E-Race, see The Great Air Race: https://greatairrace.com.au