First Electric Commuter Airplane Expected Within Three Years


This is the moment we have all been waiting for. The first electric commuter airplane is almost ready to go, it only needs its certifications.

Over the last few years we have witnessed a complete transformation in the way people look at commuting. If before a “train-ride-away”, was the norm, now jumping on a plane, and getting to the office is something almost casual. Low-cost airline companies are competing continuously, finding ways to squeeze that extra passenger inside the plane cabin. If he travels only with a wallet and a bottle of water, that would be even better.

I think I do not need to paint that picture for anyone- we have all experienced this. Bargaining over luggage, or paying that extra 2 euros for the possibility to bring your laptop on board. No matter how uncomfortable it can be, though, people seem to like it. Flying has never been so accessible. For some working in Amsterdam, living in London, is not even an issue, while for others, flying over to Sicily to climb that beautiful volcano, can just be a Saturday activity.

Here comes the big ‘however’, with a capital H. What is the influence of all this on our environment? The answer to this question is a little disturbing and no government so far has come up with a sustainable strategy that would allow people to keep their freedom, yet do it in an eco-friendly manner.

This long introduction, just to tell you that the solution to all this might be closer than we all think. So here it is- the first ever, fully electric airliner, which can cover the whooping 621 miles on a single charge, while carrying nine passengers and two crew members. The running costs are expected to be as little as 7 to 9 cents per mile, which translates to just $200 per hour.

The super machine, called Alice, is a creation of the Israeli company Eviation. Alice runs on 900 kWh lithium ion batteries made by Kokam (a South Korean company), and it cruises along thanks to a 260kW electric motor by Siemens. Other companies involved in this project are Hartzell- providing the propellers, BendixKin- ensuring the avionics, and Honeywell- in charge of the fly-by-wire control system.

So, where do we stand? Eviation is currently putting together two of these electric aircrafts, targeting to have at least one up and running early next year. They have committed to display a fully functioning Alice at the Paris Airshow, which will take place in June, 2019. The only thing that the company will really need to wait for are the certifications. Of course, safety comes first, so the aviation regulators will take their time. The guys at Eviation, however, are positive and convinced it will all be taken care of by 2021.

This is really a great way forward for the aviation industry, especially if we would like to see environmental issues being considered first, and all the rest follows next.

Image (c) Eviation

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