Electric aircraft manufacturer Eviation Aircraft has unveiled the design for its Alice all-electric plane. The production configuration, optimized based on real-world lessons learned and customer feedback, will define Alice’s path to its first flight later this year, to be followed by certification and entry into service, which is expected in 2024.
Alice, a nine-passenger, two-crew-member aircraft, is powered by two magni650 electric propulsion units from electric propulsion system manufacturer magniX. The fly-by-wire system is made by Honeywell.
Eviation stresses that Alice’s battery system is made from currently available battery cells, and is not reliant on future advances. The e-plane uses proven technologies and design elements—the aim is to make it easy for pilots to seamlessly transition to flying the Alice, accelerating its path to market.
In June 2019, after Alice’s unveiling in Paris, Eviation secured its first buyer: Cape Air, a regional carrier in New England. Eviation is on track to deliver its first Alices to Cape Air in 2022, and the airline expects to bring the new e-plane into commercial service in 2024.
Alice is built for regional flights up to 650 miles at a cruising speed of 276 mph. That’s considerably slower than today’s fossil-fueled planes, but Eviation points out that electric planes like Alice are much quieter than commercial jet aircraft, and can use shorter runways. These advantages could enable them to use smaller airports that are closer to travelers’ final destinations.
And of course, there is a cost advantage. “I think it’s important that the industry makes itself more sustainable in terms of emissions, but it needs to work economically,” says Eviation CEO Omer Bar-Yohay. “Alice costs about $200 per flight hour to operate. A turboprop with similar performance costs between $1,200 and $2,000 per flight hour, meaning ticket prices for Alice could be substantially less than those for conventional aircraft. Lots of people might be delighted to add an hour or two to their flight if they can fly for half the money.”
“Alice is a beautiful aircraft and represents the future of flying, plain and simple,” said Eviation Executive Chairman Roei Ganzarski. “Add in zero emissions, less noise, and significantly lower operating costs, and communities will be connected like never before, starting sooner than you think.”