NUNCATS: No Unnecessary Novelty Community Air Transport Services.
NUNCATS, as your editor mused, is not a hip religious order, but a determined husband and wife team intent on doing good in the world with electric aeronautics. They proclaim their mission as, “To provide a dependable lifeline for the world’s remote communities, to offer hands-on experience and STEM learning opportunities, and enable sports flyers to convert to cleaner, greener energy.”
They add a practical approach to their mission. “We deliver this by integrating the existing technologies of proven light aircraft, electric propulsion, and solar power generation, for maximum social and environmental impact. We are augmenting existing microgrid installations and providing the necessary infrastructure where needed.”
Their All-electric Zenith “Sky Jeep” completed its first flight on January 20, 2023. The group has plans “to transport doctors and medical supplies in remote areas of the world.” The Sky Jeep, a Zenith CH 750 Cruzer has big tires and the ability to carry a 540-pound payload. Able to fly from unpaved fields and short runways, it’s a good “bush” plane.
Taking It to the Hinterlands
Tim and Helen Bridge, principles in the enterprise, are apparently great organizers, having set up a solar-powered charging site (point) on Buckenham Aerodrome on the east coast of England well before having an electric aircraft to charge.
They hope to duplicate the charging station and create networks of many such stations throughout developing countries worldwide.
An East Anglia news outlet reports, “Tim and Helen have both lived and worked in developing countries and understand the challenges. Tim commented: ‘The only reason nobody has tried to do this before is that nobody gets very rich doing it. That’s a really bad idea not to do something which can benefit so many people. If this is something someone can do in a (large) shed, someone ought to try. So we plan to demonstrate that we can meet a real need in a sustainable, cost effective way, using existing technologies wherever possible and avoiding unnecessary novelty at all times.’”
Tim explains “As soon as funding allows, we hope to move towards getting this into communities where it can make a real difference. There are currently a billion people in the world with no access to healthcare…”
Their plan to have charging stations distributed within service networks makes sense in developing countries. Most such nations do not have a national electric grid and rely on local power generation or micro-grids for electricity. NUNCATS would bring the benefits of not only medical, but energy availability to many dispersed villages this way.
As the group points out, electricity can be as available locally, fuel for av-gas powered craft has to flown in or delivered over often impassible roads.
The lack of roads or other infrastructure is not an impediment to creating a network of solar-powered charging stations and simple runways. As noted in Electrek, “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.”
The Electrek article points out that NUNCATS still has a lot of work ahead “to achieve its goal of saving lives around the world through clean and nimble aviation. The project is still seeking backers and sponsors to help fund its development. The “electric sky jeep” kits can also be purchased as a greener option for sports flyers.”
Test pilot Tim Kingsley, following the test flight stated, “I’m very happy with how today went… 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.
“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.”
NUNCATS has developed a new partnership with Norwich City College, which will provide students to build another Cruzer for the organization. NORSE and Saxon Air Flight Support will provide workshop and airside space for building and testing at the airport. This STEM (Science, Technology, and Mathematics) program will give students valuable knowledge and hands-on experience with the aerospace world – and a chance to pioneer in electric aviation.
Even better, they may offer conversion kits to electrify other flyers’ machines. A well-tested and proven system would be a boon for sport flyers everywhere.
NUNCATS is a great example of a spiritual outreach coupled with a practical outlook. We wish the Bridges all the best.