Ampaire, a company developing a fleet of hybrid-electric propulsion aircraft, has received an order from Azul’s Conecta regional airline in South Brazil. Conecta currently serves over 84 destinations in the country.

Ampaire’s current line of aircraft includes converted Cessna Grand Caravans, which it retrofits with hybrid-electric propulsion powertrains to create it’s ‘Eco-Caravan‘ Aircraft.

The regional Brazilian Airline Conecta already operates a fleet of 27 Grand Caravans. Through the partnership, Ampaire will upgrade six of these aircraft to ‘Eco-Caravans’ with hybrid-electric propulsion.

This work will include converting Conecta’s Caravans to hybrid-electric propulsion by installing Ampaire’s  AMP-H570 hybrid-electric powertrain and battery pack. With this purchase, Conecta hopes to lower operating costs on its fleet by 25% or more, as well as meet its newest sustainability goals.

Notably, Conecta is a regional subsidiary of Brazil’s largest airline, Azul. Azul’s passengers may use Conecta aircraft for shorter-distance regional flights.

“We are thrilled to work with the visionary team at Azul Conecta,” said Ampaire CEO Kevin Noertker. “They are among a group of established air carriers ready to embrace a hybrid-electric solution, providing leadership for an entire industry.”

Said Flavio Costa, Azul Conecta´s CEO, “After evaluating a range of technologies, including fully-electric and hydrogen fuel cells, we concluded that Ampaire moves us toward our ESG goals much sooner. Azul Conecta has innovation as a mission and sees the upgrade to the Eco Caravan as a major innovation that accelerates our path to sustainability, maintaining a safety standard in our operations, which is our first and non-negotiable value.”

In addition, Azul will also work in consultation with Ampaire to develop electric aircraft charging infrastructure  across Conecta bases and at other airports.

The Azul Conecta order follows the first flight of the Eco Caravan in November 2022 and the announcement days later of a $9 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy to help Ampaire advance systems so that they are ready for FAA certification and series production.

Why it’s Important: This announcement marks one of the first purchases by a major airline for hybrid-electric aircraft. By upgrading its aircraft to hybrid-electric propulsions through Ampaire, Conecta has the potential to significantly reduce operating costs, and initiate a major change in the regional airline industry. As the developments of these aircraft and partnerships begin to grow, we may soon see hybrid-propulsion entering service on larger fixed-wing aircraft as well.

Posted by Benji