Most people thought the triplane was a relic of the past, an ungainly aircraft from the early days, left behind as more modern designs came to the fore. But the triplane could be getting another lease on life if the Kickstarter campaign by Faradair Aerospace Limited is successful.
The BEHA (which stands for Bio-Electric Hybrid Aircraft) is an odd looking design which seems to have everything but the kitchen sink thrown at it. The design is intended to be a six-seat aircraft with “sports car feel,” with an emphasis on safety. The cabin is intended to have Formula 1 style crash protection as well as a ballistic parachute recovery fail-safe system. The electric fans and ducted propeller, along with the lift from three wings, are intended to provide for exceptionally quiet flight.
Bio-Electric Hybrid refers to the combination of propulsion systems being used. This project combines a biodiesel engine (to generate electricity and to run a large ducted pusher propeller at the back) along with twin electric fan motors. The plane will take off and land using the electric motors, and the biodiesel engine and pusher propeller are for in-flight recharging and aiding in cross-country cruising.
But wait, like the late-night commercials say, There’s More!
The triple wing provides greater lift for the plane. It also provides more top surface area for solar panels. Yes, this plane also has solar panels on all three wings, as well as the fuselage and on top of the duct surrounding the pusher propeller in back. The solar panels “are not the primary power source for the electric motors, but simply additional trickle charge capability.”
Does all of this unusual gear really make it a green aircraft? Lots of aircraft have tested biofuels, and the performance has been pretty much uniformly acceptable. Solar panels on the wings are part of the Solar Impulse, but that is a very specialized, purpose-built craft that does use its solar panels to power the craft. Ducted fans and electric engines are being used in other applications. Even whole-airplane parachutes are not new. Does putting all these features together make a very green vehicle, or is it just a rough patchwork of other concepts all put together in a single vehicle?
EcoGeeks like us have been intrigued by a host of other unusual aircraft concepts over the years. Certainly other pioneering vehicles seemed ungainly at first. Whether the BEHA rises to become a star will remain to be seen.
Link: Faradair Kickstarter