First flight for NUNCATS ‘electric sky jeep’
UK firm NUNCATS’ ‘electric sky jeep’, an aviation project aimed at improving healthcare in remote regions, has taken to the skies for the first time.
Old Buckenham, Norfolk-based firm NUNCATS has been building its aircraft, based on a Zenith CH750, for the past three years. The aircraft is being designed to provide cheap and sustainable transport to deliver doctors, teachers and medical supplies to remote communities.
NUNCATS plans to work with charities and NGOs to tap into existing networks of solar powered energy grids on buildings in remote towns and villages so that the aircraft can fly between them.
The test flight, which took place last Friday, is a significant step forward for the project, according to Tim Bridge, founder of the Community Interest Company (CIC), and the aircraft’s builder. Bridge founded CIC along with his wife Helen, after the start of the first Covid lockdown about three years ago. CIC has now partnered with US Zenith Aircraft Company and several start-up investors.
The Zenith CH750 is a light aircraft available in kit form, CIC have replaced the petrol engine and tanks with an electric motor and batteries.
Mr Bridge said: “Nobody else is building electric aircraft in this way. Our aim is to provide a low-cost, rugged and practical aircraft for use in rural and hard to reach communities, such as medics in Uganda and doctors in rural India. We knew it would work but it is great to actually see it in action. Now we have done that our next stage is to find the money to complete the second plane and replicate this so we can get them out into the field for testing.
Piloting test flight was Captain Tim Kingsley, a pilot at Norwich-based air charter company SaxonAir, a backer of the project. “I’m very happy with how today went. It was cold out there, there was a bit of crosswind, but everything went really well. I’m delighted to be involved in this project and although it is still at its very early stages the vision is a really exciting one. There’s nothing like this anywhere else in the world,” said Kingsley.
NUNCATS said it still looking for backers and sponsors to help fund the project. The ‘electric sky jeep’ kits can also be purchased as a more sustainable option for sports flyers.