Israeli company Eviation grabbed attention at this week’s Paris Air Show with Alice, its futuristic entry into the electric business and commuter aircraft market, and a first order from a US customer.
The needle-nosed composite plane is designed to take nine passengers up to 650 miles (1,046kms) at a cruise speed of 240knots and is aimed at so-called “middle-mile” routes such as Paris-Toulouse or San Jose-San Diego.
It appears a good fit for newly-announced US customer Cape Air, which serves 35 cities in the US and Caribbean with 92 aircraft and specializes in shorter routes.
Alice is powered by a push propeller at the back and two on the end of each wing.
Eviation plans to complete the first flights and begin manufacturing in the US this year with certification expected in for 2021 and first deliveries in 2022.
The company says the electric aircraft’s operating costs will be about 70 percent lower than conventional planes and will provide travelers with a “cost-competitive, emission-free option”.
The plane is the culmination of four years of design and collaboration with partners from France, Italy, Singapore, Germany, South Korea, Australia, the US and Israel, Alice represents a breakthrough on many levels.
Earlier this year, it announced it had struck a deal with electric motor company magniX to provide its 375hp Magni250 propulsion system for the plane.
It has also struck a deal with Siemens for a system that includes a 260kW electric motors with a 900kWh lithium-ion battery pack.
Eviation chief executive Omer Bar-Yohay believes Alice will redefine how people travel regionally “and usher in a new era of flying that is quieter, cleaner and cost-effective”.
“In 2017, Americans spent $US1 trillion traveling distances between 50 and 650 miles. Our goal is to undercut the cost of commuting by making middle mile trips cheaper, faster and cleaner,’’ he said
“Together with magniX we’re providing an economically and environmentally sustainable mobility solution that will forever change the face of aviation and consumer travel.”
Still on the drawing board but also unveiled at Paris was the EcoPulse distributed propulsion system, which uses a gas turbine to power the main propeller that generates electricity for electric propellers on the wing.