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Gloucestershire firm aims for air speed record

A pioneering Gloucestershire firm is aiming to take air flight to the next level with its electric aircraft, setting its sights on a new air speed record.

Stjohn Youngman, managing director of Electroflight which is based at Gloucestershire airport at Staverton, told "Gloucestershire and the South West as a region has a rich aviation engineering heritage with many companies having helped pioneer the First and Second aerospace propulsion ages - that's Piston/Propeller and the Jet Age. Now Electroflight is proud to be contributing to pioneering the Third propulsion revolution here at Staverton."

The firm has developed the Electric NXT or E-NXT, a single-seater aircraft, with aerospace giant Rolls-Royce.

They're hoping it will break the world speed record for an electric aircraft by travelling at more than 480km/h (300mph). The current record stands at 342km/h (213mph).

Rolls-Royce has been working with Electroflight on the project for three years, spending £6 million to develop the cutting-edge technology.

Bringing electrification to air flight is a daunting task. The weight of the batteries is the major challenge. The E-NXT battery system weighs 300 kg, almost half the weight of the plane.

Many of the firm's engineers come from a background in the automotive industry, with Stjohn Youngman previously involved with sports cars. Staverton provided an ideal base for the company.

"Hangar facilities with airside access gave us a great ability to carry out ground testing on site. Like having a test track on your back doorstep," Stjohn said.

"Gloucestershire is also well placed to pull talent from a number of areas such as the Bristol Aerospce Hub, Warwickshire automotive industry and the Oxfordshire/Bedfordshire motorsport valley region."

The company is relatively small with about 30 staff onsite at the hangars and industrial units at the former Staverton airfield.

He said: "The project set out to achieve its aims using a small dynamic team, adopting agile development principals. Electroflight remains a small business although is growing quickly with about 30 high-skilled engineering roles delivering a number of battery systems for customers.

"The next phase for the business is to scale up to meet the upcoming demands of electrical vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) and other electrified aircraft customers. This will involve significant investment in manufacturing facilities and teams."

The plane has now been removed to a secret location in preparation for its air speed bid.

He added: "Rolls Royce are leading the flight test campaign with the Electroflight team supporting the aircraft. The team are at the flight test facility and have just rebuilt the aircraft.

"We are all focussed on carrying out the remaining ground testing before we progress to the flight test programme and through to record run programmes."

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