Eviation’s Alice all-electric aircraft completes first test flight


Eviation has successfully completed the first flight of its electric aircraft Alice and said the nine-passenger regional variant will enter service in 2027.

Alice took off at 7:10 am on September 27 from Grant County International Airport in Washington State, USA, and flew for eight minutes at an altitude of 3,500ft. This flight of the demonstrator aircraft provided data to further optimize the aircraft for commercial production, said Eviation.

Alice is targeted at the commuter and cargo markets and has a top speed of 300mph (480km/h) and a range of up to 250 miles (400km), with the capability to stay in the air for up to two hours.

Three variants of the aircraft are being developed including a nine-passenger commuter version, a six-passenger executive version, and an eCargo version with a 2,500 lbs (1,100kg) maximum payload. All configurations support two crew members. The only difference between the versions is the interior cabins.

Eviation has been developing Alice since 2015 and plans for the aircraft to start certification in 2025 and enter service by 2027. The development program has not been straightforward – Alice was initially expected to enter service this year. Initially pegged at around 650 miles (1,000km), its range capabilities have also been significantly revised down.

Eviation said that Alice’s battery system had been designed to be upgradeable so its range can be increased as battery technology evolves.

Alice is powered by two 540kWmagni650 electric propulsion units supplied by electric motor maker magniX. AVL has provided battery systems, while GKN supplied the wings, Honeywell the fly-by-wire system, flight controls and avionics, and Multiplast the fuselage.

Eviation’s president and CEO Gregory Davis said, “Today we embark on the next era of aviation. People now know what affordable, clean, and sustainable aviation looks and sounds like for the first time in a fixed-wing, all-electric aircraft.”

Cape Air Founder and Board Chairman Dan Wolf, which has ordered 75 Alice aircraft said, “We currently fly more than 400 regional flights per day, connecting more than 30 cities across the United States and the Caribbean. Alice can easily cover 80% of our flight operations, bringing sustainable, emission-free travel to the communities we serve.”

DHL Express has ordered 12 Alice eCargo planes. Geoff Kehr, senior vice president, Global Air Fleet Management, DHL Express said, “With our order of 12 Alice e-cargo planes, we are investing towards our overall goal of zero-emissions logistics.”

The regional passenger and cargo market has emerged as the most likely section of the aviation market to receive the first all-electric fixed-wing aircraft over the last few years, as engineers have looked to integrate current battery technology into airframes.

Other leading companies in the electric aircraft include Swedish startup Heart Aerosapce, which earlier this month revealed an updated design for its first hybrid-electric regional airplane, which it plans to have ready for the market by  2028.

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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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