White Lightning electric plane
White Lightning, an all-electric racing plane, debuts at Dubai Airshow. Image Credit: Twitter

Dubai: An all-electric racing aicraft has been unveiled at the on-going Dubai Air Show.

Called White Lightning, the battery-powered sports aircraft is billed as a "world first". The Dubai Airshow runs until November 21.

Now, the European aerospace giant Airbus is trailblazing the way for electric vehicles to take flight, with the Airbus Air Race E series.

The European planemaker has backed the e-racing tournament, with inaugural race set in late 2020, in which the White Lightning team are competing. Airbus' support for the e-race boosts its green aerospace tech credentials.

Showcasing the White Lightning in Dubai marks “the first time we have let anyone outside of our teams and partners under the hood of a race airplane to showcase some of the cutting-edge electric technology that will be in use during the series,” Air Race E CEO and founder Jeff Zaltman told Ainonline.com.

White Lightning, manufactured by UK-based Condor Aviation, is a modified Cassutt formula one racer, featuring Contra-Electric’s twin motor.

News reports state that White Lightning has the following features:

  • It weighs 375-kilogram
  • Powered by a fully-electric engine
  • A contra-rotating propeller powertrain that provide continuous electric power
  • A flight speed of around 482 km/h (300 mph)
  • Motor is powered by lithium batteries, fitted under the fuselage
  • Battery will provide power for 5 minutes of high-intensity racing
  • Battery has enough power for around 10 minutes of reserve flying — at reduced power

Initial pictures show White Lightning is fitted with contra rotating propellers. "White Lightning" is the nickname of pilot Andrew Chadwick, who flew the aircraft before it turned electric.

Air Race E
Air Race E is the planned world’s first electric air racing series. The Air Race E World Cup is an air racing championship run to Formula 1 rules and adapted for purely electric aircraft.

Entrants will design and build electric aircraft to take part in races, flying in groups of 8 around a 5-km oval course marked by 'pylons' at speeds in excess of 250 mph.

Eight international racing teams — from North America and Europe — will compete in the race series.

Air Race E inaugural race is scheduled for late 2020.

The first Formula E race first took place in Beijing in 2014.

The UK’s Condor Aviation, one of the teams, is one of the pioneering teams that will compete in the 2020 Air Race E.

Why Air Race E is exciting

At a time when electric flight is still in its infancy, Air Race E is an ambitious project that aims to help accelerate both aviation and motorsport into the future.

It is the world’s first and only all-electric airplane racing championship following Formula 1 rules.

Air Race E promotes green aviation, and sets the marker for future developments in electric plane propulsion with a world-first airplane race.

Its promoters say future transport platforms will require electric power solutions, many of which will be based on those developed for Air Race E.

Supported by Airbus and Formula Air Racing Assocation, the race encourages the use of cleaner power in transportation, as it seeks "to help take this global challenge to the next level", its website states.

Air Race E organisers said they offer industry partners and manufacturers a platform to develop ground-breaking technology in electric aerospace. "We are already working with a number of industry leaders and are welcoming more as we grow," the race's website states.