In a milestone that leads innovation in sustainable air travel and will shape both passenger and cargo travel in the future, Eviation Aircraft has successfully flight-tested its all-electric aeroplane in the US.
While it was a short flight – just eight minutes at 3500ft – the flight proved the technology that is being developed to enable electric-powered commercial aircraft.
The all-electric aeroplane in the test – dubbed Alice – produces no carbon emissions, significantly reduces noise and costs a fraction to operate per flight hour compared to light jets or high-end turboprops. Washington state-based Eviation is designing Alice to target the commuter and cargo markets, typically operating flights ranging from 240km to 400km.
It will particularly suit services from airports where local regulations prevent takeoffs and landings within certain hours to reduce noise inconvenience to residents.
Dan Wolf, the founder and chairman of US regional airline Cape Air, described the flight as “a transformational milestone for the aviation industry”.
Cape Air flies more than 400 regional flights each day, connecting more than 30 cities across the US and the Caribbean and has ordered 75 Alices. Wolf says the aeroplane can “easily” handle 80 per cent of those flights.
Similarly, freight company DHL Express, which has 12 Alices on order, “confirms the company’s belief that the era of sustainable aviation is here” according to Geoff Kehr, senior VP of global air fleet management at DHL Express.
“This historic flight marks a significant milestone on our journey to ultimately achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.”
Alice has a top speed of 481kph, has a ‘useful load’ of about 1200kg. It is being designed in nine-seater commuter, six-seater executive and e-cargo versions. It is powered by two Magni650 electric propulsion units from MagniX, the only flight-proven electric propulsion systems operating at this scale to date.
Eviation says the short test flight provided the company’s engineers with invaluable data to further optimise the aircraft for commercial production.
“We have successfully electrified the skies with the unforgettable first flight of Alice,” said Eviation president and CEO Gregory Davis. “People now know what affordable, clean and sustainable aviation looks and sounds like for the first time in a fixed-wing, all-electric aircraft.”