Private aviation company Surf Air is to buy up to 150 hybrid-electric Cessna Grand Caravans and will start operating them in 2024, in one of the largest orders of electric aircraft yet.
The hybrid-electric Cessna Grand Caravan EX is being designed and manufactured by Textron and will use powertrain technology owned by Surf Air Mobility.
The order is the latest move towards electric aviation for the subscription-based charter operator Surf Air. Earlier this year Surf Air announced it is buying US-based electric aircraft developer Ampaire and its powertrain technology.
Textron is expected to begin delivering Grand Caravan Ex aircraft to Surf Air by June next year. The hybrid electric system for the Grand Caravan, which is still to be certified by the FAA, will power a 9-seat variant of the single-engine turboprop.
Ron Draper, president and CEO, Textron Aviation said, “Hybrid electric propulsion technology, deployed at scale for environmental and commercial benefits, is an important part of the future of travel.
“This relationship with Surf Air Mobility leverages the unique performance capabilities of the Cessna Grand Caravan in both passenger and cargo operations and continues to demonstrate the aircraft’s adaptability for innovative missions and configurations.”
The hybrid electric Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft will be used by Surf Air Mobility across its own short-haul network in the USA.
“This is an opportunity to showcase the combined expertise and technologies of both Textron Aviation and Surf Air Mobility,” said Rob Scholl, senior vice president, Textron eAviation. “The outstanding capabilities and versatility of the Grand Caravan make it an ideal aircraft to take advantage of this new technology.”