Planes

Facts and stats about the raceplane types currently flying in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship

Designed to be as agile in the air as possible and streamlined to perfection, the raceplanes flown in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship are at the forefront of light aviation technology.

Constructed to be as light as possible to ensure maximum speed, they also have to be extremely robust, and tolerate stressed of up to 10 times the force of gravity (10Gs).

These propeller-driven machines are highly manoeuvrable, pulling up into a vertical orientation at high speed with very little effort – something that even modern fighter jets can't match.

In previous years, the race teams were allowed to modify their aircraft, but since 2014, the engines and propellers have been standardised for all teams. The Lycoming Thunderbolt AEIO-540-EXP engine and the Hartzell 3-bladed 7690 structural composite propeller have both undergone rigorous testing and have performed to specification. Both the pilots and their teams have instead dedicated their efforts to perfecting airframe aerodynamics, as well as pilot skill and ability.

EDGE 540: ZIVKO AERONAUTICS, USA

The Edge 540, manufactured by Zivko Aeronautics, is as precise and controllable as it is aggressive. The small, one-seater aircraft is a favourite amongst Red Bull Air Race pilots, largely due to its fuselage.

The computer optimised, steel tube frame makes the Edge 540 an extremely light, very durable and easily repairable raceplane.

Using an unconventional straight-edged wing, the Edge 540 sparked much interest in flying circles around the world, particularly after Kirby Chambliss began using it for aerobatic competitions. The aircraft has since evolved into the highly refined and technologically advanced version of the original prototype, with the radical wing now acknowledged as a pioneering feat of design.

Over the last few seasons, a number of the pilots upgraded to the race-bespoke Edge V3. The V3 is different from the 540 in various ways: It has an increased tolerance of G-loads. The body has been finely tuned to increase aerodynamics and reduce drag. Modifications range from a sleeker canopy design and improved exhaust, wing root and rear wheel fairings to enhanced winglets, shorter landing gear legs and upgraded cowlings. 

For 2018 the Challenger Class raceplane will be the Edge 540 V2. From the birth of the Challenger Cup, the pilots flew the two-seat Extra 330LX, sharing three Extras among them at each stop. Although the Extra did its job well, for 2018 the trio of raceplanes have been replaced with single-seat Edge 540 V2s.

As Wade Hammond, Technical Manager for the Red Bull Air Race, explains, "The Edge is easier to work on from a technician's point of view, and it will also help the Challenger Class pilots to better train for potential advancement into the Master Class."

Edge 540

LENGTH: 6.3m

WINGSPAN: 7.44m

ROLL RATE: 420°/sec

CLIMB RATE: 3,700ft/min

TOP SPEED: 425.97kph (230kts)

MAX G: +/-12G

WING DESIGN: Symmetric, carbon fibre

V2 PILOTS: Bolton, Goulian, Ivanoff, Murphy and Velarde (plus all the Challenger Class Pilots)

V3 PILOTS: Chambliss, Dolderer, Hall, Kopfstein, Le Vot, McLeod, Muroya and Sonka 

MXS-R

The MXS-R represents the latest in state-of-the-art design and technology. The 'Edge beater', as it's been named due to being a worthy match for the Edge 540, was designed using advanced computer solid modelling with an emphasis on aerodynamic efficiency. As a result, it has already gained much respect in the racing arena and is considered a work of art among pilots due to its graceful, flowing lines. What makes the MXS-R a stand-alone aircraft is that it is constructed entirely of aerospace-grade carbon fibre, which gives it superior strength and durability unlike any other.

LENGTH: 6.51m

WINGSPAN: 7.32m

ROLL RATE: 420°/sec

CLIMB RATE: 3,500ft/min

TOP SPEED: 425.97kph (230kts)

MAX G: +/-14G

WING DESIGN: Symmetric, carbon fibre

PILOTS: Brageot