Israel-based electric aircraft company Eviation may be “building the future of regional transportation” with the industry’s first all-electric aircraft. The company is based in Israel and stood up their US headquarters in Prescott, AZ during Q3 of 2018. Eviation is currently developing their first prototype, Alice, an 11-seat electric aircraft with 95% composite material structure.
Alice is powered by distributed propulsion, one pusher propellor at the tail, and one on each wingtip of the aircraft for the sake of redundancy and drag reduction, providing for a cruise speed of 260 knots and range of 650 miles. Other articulated design features of Alice are the low operating cost (by avoiding traditional fuel), advanced materials and thermal management, vehicle autonomy, and minimized noise pollution. Eviation expects that the aircraft will be charged by mobile charging stations similar to aviation fuel trucks that are currently used – one hour in the aircraft would necessitate a 30-minute charge.
Eviation plans to collaborate with fourth-year undergraduate engineering students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) on the research and development of its electric technologies. Further, ERAU’s Prescott, Arizona campus will host much of the flight testing of its Alice aircraft, with first flight planned for 2019. The involved students plan to focus on preliminary design of future electric propulsion and airframe concepts, as well as perform analysis, validation, and testing. ERAU chancellor Frank Ayers emphasized that “by including Embry-Riddle engineers and students in the R&D pool, Eviation and the Alice Aircraft will take advantage of the exposure and knowledge from our best and brightest engineers.”
Eviation has been said to be the “Tesla of electric planes” and may “change everything about regional air travel” – the 53rd Paris Air Show shall provide a proving ground for the company’s technology. The Alice commuter aircraft is slated to debut at the Air Show in June of 2019, with first flight coming soon after. Eviation CEO Omer Bar-Yohay told AIN that the company plans to have three flying prototypes by Q2 of 2020, followed by two to three years of certification.
Why its important: Eviation is taking a step closer to the commercialization of electric aircraft as an innovator in the space of regional transport, possibly to be the first to market. The company has also recruited young, passionate engineers at ERAU to continue to steer these new strides toward a future of electric-powered aviation.