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Sustainable 'Sky Jeep' takes first flight

Modified Zenith CH 750 powered by batteries

A British firm announced that its all-electric, heavily modified Zenith CH 750 “Sky Jeep” completed its first test flight.

The “Sky Jeep” takes its maiden flight at Old Buckenham Airfield in south Norfolk, UK. Photo courtesy of NUNCATS.

No Unnecessary Novelty Community Air Transport Services (NUNCATS) was founded in 2019 by husband and wife team Tim and Helen Bridge with the goal of providing health care and education access to remote communities across the world. To accomplish this, the Old Buckenham-based nonprofit (designated in the U.K. a community interest company) has been developing its electric “Sky Jeep” with the hope that it will one day provide low-cost, sustainable, zero-emission transport to bring doctors, teachers, and medical supplies to remote locations.

The aircraft was developed using a Zenith CH 750 “Cruzer” kit aircraft that underwent a three-year electrification transformation, swapping out its original combustion engine and fuel tanks for an electric powerplant and batteries. The Zenith platform requires less runway to take off and land than many general aviation aircraft and performs well on unimproved runways, making it well suited for its mission. The aircraft’s batteries can be charged by a solar array on the ground.

“Nobody else is building electric aircraft in this way,” Tim said. “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,” he continued, “but it’s 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.”

The company has partnered with U.S.-based Zenith Aircraft Co. and investors, and is actively seeking more funding for the project.

The “Sky Jeep’s” maiden voyage was piloted by Tim Kingsley, who flies for a U.K. air charter company. Kingsley said, “I’m very happy with how today went. It was cold out there, there was a bit of crosswind, but everything went really well.”

Kingsley continued, “I’ve seen first-hand the challenges some of these communities face and harnessing natural energy in such a way could make a real difference to so many people’s lives.”

The “Sky Jeep” charges below its solar charging station at Old Buckenham Airfield in south Norfolk, United Kingdom. Photo courtesy of NUNCATS.
Niki Britton
eMedia Content Producer
eMedia Content Producer Niki Britton joined AOPA in 2021. She is a private pilot who enjoys flying her 1969 Cessna 182 and taking aerial photographs.
Topics: Experimental, Electric

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