Eviation – Electrics Will Take to the Sky in 2019

December 26, 2018

Mark your calendar.
A startup aircraft builder will debut its 9-passenger regional commuter, called the Alice, at the 53rd Paris Air Show in June 2019

Cleantechnica:

Eviation Aircraft solely focuses on electric air mobility solutions. The global startup uses an old efficient design possible today by placing the propellers behind the electric motor.

The current problem is that the internal combustion engine (ICE) runs hot and needs constant cooling. That’s why most propellers and turbofans are in front of their engines. Electric motors solve that problem, which gives us more aircraft design possibilities with electric vertical take-off & landing (eVTOL) aircraft. (Sound familiar?)

Omer told us that one of the motivations behind Eviation Aircraft was to improve the way we travel. The company started in 2015 and will debut its 9-passenger regional commuter, called the Alice, at the 53rd Paris Air Show in June 2019. Alice will be commercially available in 2021 if all goes as planned.

The company is working on two electric aircraft, with the other being the autonomous electric aircraft Orca. Both use the company’s own thermal management system coupled with a pouch lithium-ion battery pack, as well as Eviation’s autonomous landing platform. The company also makes use of composite body frames.

The 14,000 lb Alice, batteries included, will cruise at 260 knots (300 mph or 481 km/h) and have 650 miles (1046 km or ~435 nm) of range. The aircraft can recharge in under 3 hours. A full-scale prototype will be ready by 2019. The company chose Hartzell Propellers for its propellers.

Omer says flying a business jet averages around $3,000 per hour. An electric airplane slashes that cost by about 90%. Since an electric aircraft is 92 to 95% more efficient than its kerosene counterpart, it also has to take into consideration the same weight when it lands. While this might sound puzzling, modern airliners are designed to take off and land with the same full weight constraints in case of emergency. (If not, I wouldn’t set foot in any.)

I expected Omer to be vague with the battery specs, but he told me all of this was achievable with a 400Wh/kg battery, which is less than twice that of most modern prognostics. With 900 kWh, the battery pack makes up 65% of the weight of the aircraft. The electric motors produce 3× 260 kW of power. This gives the Alice a service ceiling of 30,000 ft (9,144 m) and an approach landing speed of 100 knots.

Omer said the aircraft will have augmented abilities, which paves the way for autonomous flying. Autonomous vehicle technology has matured over the past 30 years in the airspace industry. Modern jetliners have been practically autonomous for decades.

CNN:

Major European carrier EasyJet announced Wednesday that it is teaming up with U.S. startup Wright Electric to build an all-electric airliner.

The aircraft they have in mind would handle short routes of 335 miles or less — think New York to Boston or London to Paris.

EasyJet, a budget airline that specializes in shorter flights, said the new aircraft would cover 20% of its passenger journeys.

The airline said it has been working closely with Wright Electric this year and it hopes to have an electric commercial aircraft flying in the next decade.

“We can envisage a future without jet fuel and we are excited to be part of it. It is now more a matter of when not if a short haul electric plane will fly,” said EasyJet CEO Carolyn McCall.

Wright Electric was founded in 2016 by a team of battery chemists, aerospace engineers and electric vehicle experts from NASA, Boeing (BA) and Cessna.

It received funding from Harvard University and startup incubator Y Combinator, which helped fund Dropbox, Reddit and Airbnb. EasyJet did not reveal the financial terms of its partnership with the startup.

Jeffrey Engler, the chief executive of Wright Electric, said that working with EasyJet is “a powerful validation of our technology approach.”

EasyJet said the startup has already demonstrated its first two-seater plane, showing it can make the technology work on a smaller scale.

Electric planes could be a game changer for airlines, because fuel is one of their biggest costs.

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12 Responses to “Eviation – Electrics Will Take to the Sky in 2019”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    Somewhere over the rainbow
    Way up high
    There’s a land that I heard of
    Once in a lullaby

    Somewhere over the Cleantechnica rainbow
    Skies are blue
    And the dreams that you dare to dream
    Really do come true

    Someday I’ll wish upon a star
    And wake up where the clouds are far
    Behind me

    Where troubles melt like lemon drops
    Away above the chimney tops
    That’s where you’ll find me

    Somewhere over the rainbow
    Electrics fly
    If they fly over the rainbow
    Why then, oh why can’t I?

    If happy little electrics fly
    Beyond the rainbow
    Why, oh why can’t I?

  2. Sir Charles Says:

    The problem is that such commuters will not in any way replace ordinary aeroplanes. They will just add to air traffic with lots of more energy use compare to ground traffic. Anything but part of the solution to combat climate change.

    • Sir Charles Says:

      Even including the better efficiency of electric motors, current batteries are still at least 20 times heavier than fuel. And we all know that weight and size matters. In particular when you want to fly.

      https://www.aps.org/publications/apsnews/201208/backpage.cfm

      • Jak O'Malley Says:

        Aluminum-air batteries are light, and have almost the energy density of gasoline. I wonder if they might be a better solution than a rechargeable?

        An MIT spinoff has developed a lithium metal rechargeable with a little over twice the energy density of lithium ions. They are in production, and expect to ramp up within a year or two. Don’t know if halving the weight is enough for aviation or not, but it will help hugely to make electric automobiles viable. Lots of people working on advanced battery technology. Stay tuned.

        As for hydrogen (below) @80% efficiency of electrolysis x 60% efficiency of fuel cells is 48% efficiency. Modern turbodiesels approach that, and with waste heat recovery Mercedes’ F1 1.6 liter gasoline turbo beats 50%; and hydrogen is ridiculously difficult to store and transport. I have gone from being an old hydrogen believer to believing that it is an expensive, time-wasting distraction when we should be pursuing more immediate low/zero/negative carbon technologies.

    • Sir Charles Says:

      I’d rather go with hydrogen => https://forums.tesla.com/de_DE/forum/forums/hydrogen-has-over-200-times-energy-density-lithiumion-batteries

      Hydrogen has an overall fuel efficiency of 50-60% when produced with electricity (e.g. wind power).

      A pity that Germany stopped the zeppelin programme for cargo transport. A feasible solution in particular for heavy and bulky loads.

      => https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CargoLifter

      Maybe it will be resurrected in the near future. And I don’t even think hydrogen should remain a no-go to keep them aloft. With decent precaution the risks should be manageable nowadays.

    • funslinger62 Says:

      Anything that reduces the use of fossil fuels is a solution.

  3. redskylite Says:

    Patience, things take time, if we can do this today, just imagine what we’ll be able to do in 25 years time, 50 years tine etc.

    An independent engineering company in California this month set the Guinness World Record for the farthest flight for an electric helicopter of 34.5 miles (30 nautical miles). The flight, which started at Los Alamitos Army Airfield, took just over 22 minutes at about 92 mph (80 knots) and an altitude of 800 feet.

    https://www.greencarreports.com/news/1120618_all-electric-helicopter-makes-record-flight?fbclid=IwAR0hn9rL5tmT5Sq5UMSyvi50OnzHNqqmw3YueWHD7BC44jbnrnq-t3UnKVw

    • dumboldguy Says:

      34.5 miles? WOW!

      There are places all over the American West where people ride a horse that far to get a morning cup of coffee.

      • redskylite Says:

        December 17th 1903: Wilbur and Orville Wright perform first heavier than air powered flight, distance wow – 120 feet.

        Fast forward 20+ years:

        On April 6, 1924, eight U.S. Army Air Service pilots and mechanics in four airplanes left Seattle, Washington, to carry out the first circumnavigation of the globe by air.

        Patience, lots of people and companies are working on the case.

      • Gingerbaker Says:

        “There are places all over the American West where people ride a horse that far to get a morning cup of coffee.”

        And then mosey on down to the local RX for some Ben-Gay and Preparation H. For the ride home.


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