The all-electric Zenith CH 750 Cruzer completed its first successful test flight on January 30 in the United Kingdom. The electric CH 750 or “Sky Jeep” as it’s often referred to, was developed by NUNCATS to provide sustainable transportation to remote communities. The first chunk of NUNCATS stands for “no unnecessary novelty,” which is their guiding principle—To create the simplest possible solutions for difficult problems. The second part stands for “community air transport services.” They hope to transport doctors and medical supplies to some of the most isolated areas of the world.
NUNCATS, a husband and wife team, chose Zenith’s popular CH 750 because it’s well suited for off-airport operations and shorter runways. They partnered with Zenith and several start-up investors, and took the existing CH 750 Cruzer light sport aircraft design and adapted it for all-electric operation.
“While we all know that today’s battery technology will not permit the range and endurance available with ICE [internal combustion engines], there are some clear advantages of electric power in addition to the more obvious sustainability claims,” explained Sebastien Heintz, president of Zenith Aircraft Company. “The simplicity of electric motors has the potential to make light aircraft propulsion systems more reliable and easier to install and maintain (especially important for amateur aircraft builders and owners), and near-instantly available torque of electric power can further improve upon the STOL (short take-off and landing) performance of Zenith kit aircraft designs.”
NUNCATS has been working on the build these last three years. They plan to tap into ground-based networks of solar powered energy grids in remote villages and towns so that the aircraft can deliver vital medical staff, supplies and teachers without relying on outside fuel needing to be flown in. The ongoing test program will continue to establish range, payload and other performance figures with different battery configurations. While they still have a lot of work ahead of them, the successful first flight is one big step toward providing rural and hard to reach communities with healthcare.