DUBAI: Switzerland's Smartflyer seeks funding for hybrid-electric SFX1

Swiss start-up Smartflyer is making its air show debut in Dubai, where it is seeking to attract investment its SFX1 hybrid-electric aircraft programme.

The four-seat single is the first of what Smartflyer expects to be a family of hybrid-electric aircraft, with the next project a seven- to 10-seat business and commuter aircraft.

Launched in 2016, the SFX1 features four 8kW batteries in the wing, which power the aircraft’s tail-mounted 160kW Rolls-Royce RRP 260D electric motor.

A Rotax 914 petrol engine in the nose "kicks in at 1,500ft", says Smartflyer, to power the electrical system for up to 4h of flight.

“The SFX1 has been designed from scratch to be incredibly efficient, quiet and environmentally friendly,” says Aldo Montanari, Smartflyer’s head of avionics and user interface.

The Swiss government has pledged funding of up to Swfr 2 million ($2 millon) which should cover development and first flight of the proof-of-concept aircraft. “So far we have only received Swfr 100,000,” says Montanari, adding that government red tape is bureaucracy is slowing the funding approval process.

“We have already approved the electric system, we now want to install it on the aircraft and get it flying,” he adds.

“We plan to start building the first aircraft next year and fly it in 2021,” Montanari says. “We shall need around Swfr 30 million to bring it to market, so we are keen to talk to investors who can help fund the rest of the programme."