AVIATION

THE FUTURE IS NOW

Look Up! Electric isn’t just for buses and cars

BELLA KALT

PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF EVIATION AIRCRAFT LTD

 

A viable electric plane seemed like an inevitable eventuality - it was just a matter of time. At the helm of the race to become the first fully commuter battery operated plane, is Israeli-based Eviation Aircraft Ltd.’s Alice. Inspired by the new design possibilities that emerged by replacing turbine engines with all electric motors, the team at Eviation has devised a sleek, stylish electric aircraft that plans on changing aviation environments.

Alice is a nine-passenger electric plane that boasts a 650-mile range with one single charge. With a cruising speed of 260 knots, Alice might be slower than your typical business jets but has enough speed that would make it the perfect jet for short distance travel.

 

The prototype was seen in action at the Paris Air Show this June. And in a little more than two years, Eviation plans to begin production of the first versions. The plane is scheduled to undergo flight tests this year and receive certification in 2021, with the plane being available for commercial use in 2022. Eviation’s first commercial customer is said to be Cape Air, a Massachusetts regional airline that was impressed with the fact that on a single charge, Alice can fly 650 miles (1,046 kilometers) at 10,000 feet with a cruising speed of 276 miles per hour.

 

Operating at a fraction of the costs of conventional jetliners, the Alice will redefine how people travel regionally and usher in a new era of flying that is quieter, cleaner and more cost-effective. With conventional aircraft releasing particles and gases such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons and lead, their growing use continues to impact the environment, making planet-friendly travel options attractive.

 

Unlike cars, however, electric planes must lift their power packs up - a reality that limits them to smaller aircraft on the shortest routes.  A reality that is not lost on the engineers who do see a bigger future for hybrids, which can combine lighter, downsized jet engines with an electric boost during takeoff and climb, for a 30% fuel saving. The additional thrusters or e-propellers also help stability, allowing a more streamlined airframe to reduce drag and consumption further.

 

Among signs of growing interest from traditional industry, engine maker Rolls-Royce bought the electric aerospace division of Germany’s Siemens - which is also one of the suppliers of motors to Alice.  

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