Alice electric plane ditches a motor as it gears up for first flight
As it edges towards the first flights for its Alice aircraft, Eviation has finally unveiled what it says is the production version of the all-electric nine-seater. This final configuration is the one the aviation startup will move forward with as it pursues certification, with the first test flights now slated for later in the year.
Israel's Eviation first introduced its Alice aircraft at the Paris Air Show in 2019, showing off a prototype plane designed from the ground up for electric flight. Like others in the electric aviation space, Eviation hopes to service shorter routes of 500 to 1,000 km (310 to 621 miles), using onboard batteries and advanced propulsion systems to cover these distances while generating no carbon emissions.
From the first renders released back in 2019 to the most recent version we looked at in March this year, Alice's design featured a set of three 260-kW electric motors, one on the end of its tail and one on each of its wingtips. This formed part of a distinctive V-tail configuration, with the motor and props on the tail's end designed to accelerate air around the fuselage and turn the aircraft's entire body into an additional wing surface for bonus lift.
In a major departure from this, the production version now unveiled by the company ditches the V-tail setup in favor of a T-tail configuration and drops one of the motors entirely. Replacing the three 260-kW motors from MagniX are a pair of the company's new and more powerful 640-kW motors, mounted to either side of the fuselage.
Eviation says this final design has been optimized through "real-world lessons" and customer feedback. The specs listed for this production-ready version include an unchanged range of 814 km (506 miles), an unchanged cruise speed of 407 km/h (253 mph), a payload capacity of 1,130 kg (2,500 lb) and space for nine passengers and two crew.
"Sharing our production Alice design is a special day for Eviation and our partners," said Eviation CEO Omer Bar-Yohay. "It also represents a final step in our iterative journey toward Alice's first flight. Electric aviation will continue to open up new possibilities for affordable, sustainable regional travel around the world. Alice is poised to turn that possibility into reality soon."
The company also says that Alice is on track to take to the skies for the first time later this year, and expects it to enter service in 2024.
Source: Eviation via PRNewswire
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1) Localised pollution drops to zero
2) Significant reduction in noise affecting surrounding areas
3) Huge reduction in vibration compared to existing turboprop aircraft
4) Massive reduction in maintenance costs. An electric motor has one moving part and they’re a fraction of the cost of a turbine, partially offsetting the battery costs
5) Significant reduction in fuel costs, on a per flight basis
Finally, a not insignificant factor is customer satisfaction, which (and I admit it’s only a guess) will be very substantial when they first fly in it.
1) in particular in travelling medium or long distances, the overall eco-friendliness seems to be important. If we destroy the planet by local zero emission, it will not help...
2) and 3) I guess very true, but they need to prove that.
4) Maybe, maintenance of the electric motor would nearly be zero, I guess. But the total system counts, e.g. battery change/charging time/safety or maintenance of components. Yes, maybe 10 times cheaper, but also 10 times less energetic... We will see.
5) I guess that is the main point: Some very rich want to say they fly electrically (can show off as for laypersons it may look ecological...) Thanks Robt for your thoughts!
Batteries will only become lighter or more dense and lighter at the same times, so it makes perfect sense to start implementing electrics and reap the benefits. Fuels hog's are yesterdays news and yesterday's headaches.
My point is: It's easy to criticize and you are correct about the areas needing work, but no progress is possible if all questions need to be answered in advance. Exploration is dangerous, sometimes deadly, and not for the timid. That's why the worldwide political paradigm of forced centralized control is so destructive. Bureaucrats/politicians are reactive, not proactive. Our species will be saved by the big risk takers, not the obedience followers of govt. edicts.
The present configuration removes the biggest flaw in the design, and raises my hopes in Alice, which now has both a pretty and a robustly designed airframe. Will this be enough to overcome the main weakness of e-planes, which is their abysmal power-to weight ratio? We'll see when it flies, but IMO Alice has a better chance than the other e-plane designs I've seen, that either have weird and inefficient configurations, or are brazen vaporware to begin with. Or both.