Eviation’s electric Alice makes eight-minutes maiden flight

Alice, the fully electric propeller airplane from American aircraft builder Eviation under development, has made its maiden flight this week at Grant County International Airport (MWH), flying for 8 minutes at an altitude of 3 500 feet (1 066 m).

Alice is targeted at commuter and cargo markets and will typically operate flights ranging from 240 to 400 km. To see it getting airborne for the first time will be a relief to German DHL Express, the international courier and package delivery service division of Deutsche Post DHL Group, which has ordered twelve of them for cargo.

Nine passengers

Cape Air and Global Crossing Airlines, both US-based regional airlines, have placed orders for 75 and 50 Alice aircraft seating nine passengers, respectively, to be used for regional flights. Cape Air’s founder and chairman, Dan Wolf, sees an opportunity to fly 80% of the 400 daily flights in the US and the Caribbean electrically in the future.

Eviation’s Alice is flown by a single pilot and can carry a load of 1130 (nine passengers) to 1 200 kg (eCargo). It ranges up to a maximum of 440 nautical miles (814 km) and can charge at 30 minutes per flight hour. Alice’s final delivery is expected for 2024.

The plane is constructed in a hangar at Arlington Municipal Airport, just north of Seattle, with parts from suppliers in eleven countries. Among them are GKN Aerospace, which delivers the wings, tail, and wiring, or the aerospace division of Honeywell. The latter contributes with fly-by-wire systems and cockpit instruments and screens, among others.

Two 640 kW motors

Alice is a fully electric airplane of 17 meters long with a wingspan of 18 meters. It is battery-powered and propelled by two 640-kW magi650 electric propulsion units from the sister company MagniX.

This final production version differs dramatically from the prototype first shown at the 2019 Paris Air Show. The V-shaped tail became a ‘classic’ T-shape. The propellers at the wingtips complemented by a tail propeller are replaced by two units attached to the fuselage at the rear, a more simplified design suggested by potential clients.

It only needs an airstrip of around 790 m to take off and land, flies at a maximum altitude of 32 000 feet (9 753 m), and reaches a cruising speed of 220 knots (407 km/h).

Israeli roots

Eviation was founded in 2015 by its current CEO, Omer Bar-Yohay, in Israel, which still has a small research and development unit. Most of the staff – some 90 people – work in Arlington near Seattle, where its headquarters are.

Eviation’s chairman, Roei Ganzarski, is an Israeli-born former Boeing executive who is also the CEO of Seattle-based MagniX, the sister company delivering the engines.

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