Affinity Flying Training Services Ltd (Affinity), a joint venture of Elbit Systems UK and KBR Inc, has begun a series of battery-powered flight tests for the UK Ministry of Defence to investigate the viability of environmentally friendly alternatives to current military aircraft.
Elbit Systems UK’s joint venture with KBR Inc, Affinity, brought the concept of zero-emissions aircraft trials, as well as the subsequent pathfinder, to the Ministry of Defence. This pathfinder illustrates the company’s commitment to offering new solutions for the UK Armed Forces and addressing future demands.
In line with the Ministry of Defence’s “green” transformation, the flights will assist the Royal Air Force (RAF) in assessing the technology of electric aircraft, determining its effectiveness as an impactful pilot training capability, and realising the service’s ASTRA initiative’s net-zero ambitions.
The Velis Electro, a fully approved two-seater pilot training aircraft, was used for the flights. Flight and safety assurances were created over the summer of 2021, which was organised and delivered by an Elbit Systems UK team working through Affinity in collaboration with the Civil Aviation Authority.
The pathfinder programme was divided into three stages. Test flights took off from Damyn’s Hall in Essex in December 2021 as part of Phase 1 and continued through January 2022. In March 2022, the aircraft joined Affinity’s current fleet at RAF Cranwell, where up to twenty extra pilots will fly the environmentally friendly aircraft. Finally, key government officials and observers will be welcomed to Phase 3 of the flight trials.
Martin Fausset, CEO of Elbit Systems UK added: “We are delighted to be leading this exciting initiative with the Ministry of Defence. The concept of zero emissions aircraft being utilised by the RAF has always been considered hypothetical and we are proud to have proposed and delivered initial capability for this pathfinder. Elbit Systems UK has always been, and continues to be, at the forefront of advances in the Defence industry, supporting our Armed Forces as they address the requirements of tomorrow.”
Elbit Systems UK Ltd. is the sole owner of three wholly owned subsidiaries and two joint ventures. Elbit Systems UK firms employ around 600 people in the UK in high-tech professions in the defence, aerospace, and rail sectors.