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Ready for Take Off: Simulation Charges Electric Air Racing

Air Race E is the first all-electric airplane race series. With the launch of the series scheduled for the second half of 2021, the competing teams are striving to engineer the aircraft that will take part in this revolutionary form of air racing — with eight fully electric planes completing eight laps of a 5 km (3.1 mile) circuit, wing tip to wing tip, at speeds of up to 450 kph (280 mph).

Two electric planes racing

In addition to being an amazing spectacle, the race series will serve as a testbed for new technologies that will shape the future of more sustainable aviation. Electric systems are augmenting fossil fuel-based propulsion systems and may even replace them. Airbus is a founding partner of Air Race E, which reinforces commercialization and industry adoption, much the same way as the automotive industry’s Formula E develops electric vehicle technologies that are adopted in everyday automobiles.

Engineering Electric Planes

With just over a year to go, the serious business of engineering these groundbreaking aircraft is underway.

Simulation is used to optimize electric planes for racing

The series has been designed to focus the teams on developing solutions to some of the most pressing electrification challenges, such as energy storage and batteries, power electronics, electric drives, charging and lightweighting. The teams face stiff design criteria: 150 kW power (with +175 kW boost), 800 V maximum, delivering full power for 5 minutes with a 10-minute reserve at 30% power. And all this must be delivered by a powertrain with a mass of no more than 155 kg (341.71 lb).

Recognizing that simulation is the only practical way to get these aircraft to the start line in time for the first race, Air Race E has partnered with Ansys to enable the competing teams to access the portfolio of simulation tools they need — from systems and embedded software to electromagnetics, fluids and mechanical.

"Lacking historical design precedent for these highly sophisticated electric aircraft, simulation remains the only way to safely develop innovative technologies under incredibly tight deadlines," said Jeff Zaltman, founder and CEO, Air Race Events. "Partnering with Ansys, Air Race E teams will leverage leading-edge simulation technology to design new aircraft, achieve world-class performance levels and cross the finish line at incredible speeds. These advances will help usher in the next chapter of electric aviation."

Solve Electric Plane Engineering Challenges with Simulation

Checkered flag waves in an electric plane race

So just how are the teams planning to solve these challenges with simulation? To go under the hood and explain some of the details, Ansys and Air Race E have teamed up with IQPC and their More Electric Aircraft series to present a free-to-attend, live webinar on September 22 at 8 a.m. Eastern US/2 p.m. Central European time. Reserve your spot by registering to attend here.

Tune into the webinar  to hear Air Race E CEO Jeff Zaltman introduce the race series and the associated engineering challenges. Ansys engineers  will describe how simulation is being deployed across the teams to deliver practical solutions to these challenges. The speakers will use examples derived from the race teams’ active projects.

And if you can’t wait until then, get a sneak peak of Ansys electrification solutions by downloading our new electrification e-book, “Engineering What’s Ahead: Electric Mobility.”

The Race to Electric Mobility Ansys E-book