ABOVE: Elfly CEO introduces Noemi in scale model and onscreen CG form at the launch event held in Oslo on 14 June (IMAGE: PHILIP WHITEMAN)
On 14 June Norwegian aircraft manufacturer Elfly unveiled in Oslo Noemi, its all-electric ‘no emissions’ nine-seat amphibian, designed to serve settlements ill-served by surface transport and remote from airports.
Co-funded by principal investor and company CEO Eric Lithun and the Norwegian government, and supported by the airline Norwegian Air Shuttle and communities in the Fjords, Elfy may be a new company but its engineers have a track record in designing and operating electric aircraft. Chief Technical officer Tomas Brodreskift produced the P2 Xcursion, a ‘clean sheet of paper’ design that first flew in 2019 and he and other Elfly recruits fitted Cassutt IIIM F1 racing aircraft with an electric motor for the Nordic Air Racing Team’s entry in the putative Air Race E series.
The poor hydrodynamic performance of the P2, which otherwise flew very satisfactorily has been a lesson: Elfly has recruited one engineer formerly employed by specialist seaplane manufacturer Dornier and the Norwegian company has sought advice from seaplane pilots from around the world. Pragmatically, Neomi borrows its stepped flying boat hull design from the Grumman Mallard and its twin-engine planform and cruciform tail from the DHC Twin Otter. While the manufacturer of its twin electric motors, capable of delivering a total of 950kw (approximately 1,300hp) will officially be announced at the Paris Airshow, this aspect of the aircraft also represents proven technology.
Elfly’s innovation is sensibly confined to optimization of the 1.5 tonne battery pack and the particular the way in which the aircraft is operated commercially. With 2023 battery technology and the constraint of the 45-minute reserve required for IFR certification, the company predicts a range of just 170km (92nm). CEO Eric Lithun says that Elfly is consciously under-promising here and plans to overdeliver through the steady improvement in battery efficiency that should see the IFR range extend to 240km by the end of the 2020s. Operating Day VFR reduces the reserve to thirty minutes and Elfly is asking the Norwegian aviation authority to consider the US FAA’s allowance of a reduced reserve when operating in sight of a landing place – in the case fifteen minutes for ops over any stretch of water.
Elfly’s business plan extends beyond design and building of the aircraft – the prototype is projected to fly in 2025 – to being granted an AOC and running its own commercial operation, first for local sightseeing trips and then A to B flights along the coast. This all adds up to one ‘zero-emissions’ aircraft project appears to have a greater chance of success than most.
WORDS: PHILIP WHITEMAN
IMAGES: PHILIP WHITEMAN (TOP), ELFLY (BOTTOM)