Eviation sets sights on regional travel with nine-seat electric Alice aircraft
Early days it may be, but there are plenty of exciting things happening in electric aviation. Earlier this month we saw the first public outing of the largest hybrid-electric plane to ever take flight, following other significant milestones such as the first electric aircraft to cross the English channel. Making its mark at the Paris Air Show this week is Eviation's Alice, which is a light nine-seater all-electric plane designed to service regional areas.
The goal of electric aircraft makers like Israel's Eviation is not to replace long-haul commercial air travel, at least not yet. These aviation startups imagine light electric aircraft with their smaller range servicing shorter routes up to around 1,000 miles (1,600 km), something Eviation refers to as middle-mile aviation and a sweet spot for electric aircraft.
This echoes the ambitions of Ampaire, the LA-based company behind the aforementioned hybrid electric plane which flew for the first time two weeks ago. But unlike the Ampaire 337 plane, which is essentially a six-seat Cessna 337 retro-fitted with an electric propulsion system, Alice is designed from the ground up for electric travel.
Eviation has agreements in place with both Siemens and magniX for Alice's propulsion systems, offering its customers a choice of two options. Both will see a main pusher propellor on the end of its tail along with one on both wingtips, all outputting 260 kW. These propel the 12.2-meter (40-ft) aircraft to a cruise speed of 240 knots (276 mph, 445 km/h), and carry up to nine passengers across distances of up to 650 mi (1,046 km).
Eviation is showing off what it says is an operational prototype of Alice at the Paris Air Show this week, offering attendees a first look at its sleek styling and 16.12-m (53-ft) wingspan. The company's plans from here involve conducting test flights this year with an eye toward certification in 2021, followed by deliveries to customers for commercial flights in 2022.