The electric revolution isn’t just coming, it’s upon us. We have all-electric cars, trains, scooters, VTOLs and even surfboards. And now Israeli-based Eviation is the first to the party with Alice, the world’s first full-sized, all-electric aircraft.
- At the Paris airshow this year, Eviation debuted the first all-electric commuter plane.
- Seating a maximum of 9, the plane is designed for regional routes up to 650 miles.
- With aviation responsible for 2-3% of global emissions, replacing petroleum-engine planes with electric motors will make a huge difference in cleaning up the environment.
Presented at the Paris Airshow in June, Alice can take to the air carrying a max of 9 passengers for up to 650 miles on a single charge. Surprisingly, it will only take three hours to plug in and recharge, according to Omer Bar-Yohay, Eviation’s CEO. With a cruising speed of 240 knots (276 mph) and designed to fly at 10,000 feet, Alice gets her thrust from three electric motors and a 900 kWh lithium-ion battery weighing 3,500kg(7,700 lb). For comparison, Alice’s battery is about nine times the size than the largest one Tesla puts in its cars.
When you look at the statistics, transportation is responsible for 14% of global emissions, with aviation contributing 2%-3% — which is almost 20% of the total! On the other hand, all-electric planes produce 0%, no emissions at all. And, customers are on board with the transition. According to a survey conducted by investment bank UBS in the U.S. and Germany, 22% of people have reduced air travel in consideration of the environment. That number jumps to over 50% for people under 44.
Eviation plans to have Alice approved by the Federal Aviation Administration next year and to start manufacturing the plane in the U.S. by 2021 to deliver in 2022. A test flight will take place in Arizona, where the company will build the planes.
Regional Airlines Will Become Zero-Emissions
Regional airline Cape Air already gave its vote of confidence with an order of 92 models for the $4 million-dollar aircraft. Although you might not have heard of Cape Air, it’s one of the largest regional airlines in the U.S. Located in Massachusetts, it serves about half a million passengers a year with hundreds of short flights a day. The company has already positioned itself as an environmentally friendly airline.
“Cape Air has never been just another airline. We are a company of firsts, and one with a deep sense of social responsibility,” said Cape Air founder and CEO Dan Wolf. “Seven years ago, we were recognized by the EPA for our sustainability efforts. Today, we are stewards in what is the world’s single most emissions-laden industries. We see tremendous opportunities to reduce the environmental impact of our operations, and to help our employees and communities do that as well. Augmenting our fleet with the all-electric Alice aircraft is the next chapter in our future.”
Since batteries don’t have the capacity to hold enough energy for long flights, short regional hauls are the perfect place to start. Of course, as battery technology improves that will change. And, in addition to Cape Air looking like an environmental hero, electric-powered flights make good fiscal sense.
Smart For Finances And The Environment
According to MagniX, it costs 10 times less to operate on fuel costs alone. Also, it says that less maintenance, sturdier systems and faster turnaround on electric planes could potentially save short-haul airlines millions per year. UBS seconds the motion with an estimate that greening up aviation could be worth $178 billion dollars, predicting the first Hybrid Electric (HE) 50 to 70-seater plane ready to go in 2028.
To power Alice, Eviation uses three electric motors on the tail and one on each wingtip, sourcing the motors from Siemens and MagniX. Interestingly, Rolls Royce is acquiring Siemens’ eAircraft to augment its electric division. Yes, Rolls Royce is jumping into electric aircraft motors.
Other suppliers, such as Boeing, are making investments to electrify their fleets. Sometimes, though, it takes an upstart like Eviation (or Tesla) to push the boundaries into a new era of technology. And, it comes just in time for us to save the planet, if we’re lucky.