Aircraft manufacturer Eviation debuted the prototype of the world’s first all-electric commercial passenger aircraft at the Paris Airshow.
The all-composite nine-seater, a collaboration between Israel based Eviation and the fuselage manufacturing group Carboman, is set to have its first flight later this year.
“When we started in 2015 we were written off as delusional at best,” said Omer Bar-Yohay, Eviation CEO and co-founder. “This is the pinnacle of an insanely long effort.”
Eviation has already received the first orders for its new aircraft, with U.S. regional airline Cape Air having put in a “double-digit” order for the $4 million Alice.
The company is also collaborating with Siemens for the plane’s electric motors, BendixKing AeroVue for the avionics suite, and Honeywell for the flight control system.
“The product is built as a very light commuter airplane, but [benefits from many] advanced technologies because it is all-electric,” said Bar-Yohay.
“We wanted an airplane that would be dramatically more efficient. We wanted to use distributed propulsion to do this.”
60 per cent of the aircraft’s weight comes from its lithium ion batteries, with the fuselage built in two parts and drawing on expertise from five different companies to make it more lightweight.
“The difference between the technology of 2019 and 2022, in most cases, is not batteries or motors, [but] the lightweight materials [used] for the rest of the plane,” said Bar-Yohay.
“The challenge we face now is taking a battery that is half the weight of the plane and finding materials light enough to accommodate the aerodynamics of the plane’s design.”
Prior to its use in passenger commuting the aircraft will be shipped to Prescott, Arizona, where it will undergo a two-year flight-testing certification program.
“We are in the process of certification,” said Bar-Yohay, “and we anticipate the plane to be fully certified by 2021.”