At the 2019 Paris Air Show, Eviation, an Israel-based startup company, introduced a revolutionary prototype for an all-electric aircraft called Alice. This would be the world’s first fully operational, electric passenger plane, having the capacity to take on board nine passengers.
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Why are Electric Aircraft Important?
Pollution (air, water, soil, etc.) is one of the raging causes of climatic changes and several measures have been rapidly incorporated to minimize its level. In 2019, air travel alone accounted for 2.5% of global carbon emissions. Scientists predict that this number could triple by 2050.
Electric airplanes could be the answer to many problems. Electric propulsion motors reduce direct carbon emissions and also significantly decrease fuel costs, maintenance, and noise. The introduction of electric motors could also be immensely beneficial to aviation companies as electric motors have longer life spans than hydrocarbon-fueled engines.
A New Era of Aviation-Alice
Omer Bar-Yohay, the co-founder and CEO of Eviation, stated that Alice represents a new era of aviation. For 15 years, Bar-Yohay has been associated with the aerospace and aircraft industries in various leadership roles in Israel and Europe. In 2015, he established Eviation Aircraft in Kadima, Israel.
Alice does not require any fuel for its operation, as the aircraft contains a fully sustainable and zero-emission electric engine. Another advantage of Alice is its low noise production when compared with other jets.
The aircraft operates at a fraction of the cost of conventional jetliners. Eviation believes that Alice may gain popularity among the socially conscious private owner-operators, who frequently travel shorter distances for weekend trips, business meetings, or family getaways. This new era of flying could redefine regional travel with a quieter, cleaner, and cost-effective commute.
Alice was originally perceived as a small, fully electric commuter aircraft that would be manned by a single pilot. It was predominantly designed for regional trips and is as accessible as a train ride. Alice could be booked to ride by passengers via an app for popular short-haul routes, e.g., London to Prague, San Jose to San Diego, etc. According to Bar-Yohay, Alice could become an “Uber in the sky.”
Deservingly, Eviation secured a place in the TIME magazine’s list of 100 “best inventions” a few years before. It has also won a “World-Changing Ideas” Award in 2018 by the US business magazine Fast Company.
This Fully Electric Plane Will Change EVERYTHING (Eviation Alice)
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Design and Development of Alice
Alice has been developed using 95% composite materials, which are lightweight and possess many advanced characteristics. Some of these properties are superior thermal-regulating and aerodynamic efficiency, extreme propulsion, and flight stability.
Eviation has designed Alice with increased stability and minimal drag, while it also dispenses propulsion. These features are incorporated by positioning the main pusher propeller at the tail of the aircraft, two pusher propellers at the wingtips, and a uniquely curved nose. Alice depends on a cutting-edge lithium battery, which could stand strong for two-and-a-half hours after one charge of 30 minutes or less. This aircraft has an altitude upper limit of 32,000 feet, a maximum payload of 1134 kg, and a peak range of up to 815 km.
Eviation has solicited to collaborate with Siemens for cutting-edge motor technology and Honeywell for the fly-by-wire avionics. Fly-by-wire is a small, light-weight, and complete electronic flight control system with advanced interfaces. Eviation stated that the test flight for Alice is expected “before the end of the year”. At present, the aircraft is undergoing its fifth iteration at Eviation headquarters in Arlington, Washington, US.
Future of Alice: Passenger and Cargo Aircraft
Eviation has received a notable number of orders from Cape Air, a regional US commercial airliner that is set to be delivered by 2022. This is an impressive feat as the first prototype of Alice was launched in 2019 and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification has been scheduled to be confirmed by 2021.
Cape Air mainly covers the commute between New York and New England, which is perfect for Alice’s range of 650 miles. Furthermore, this commute requires a cruising altitude of 10,000 feet and a cruise speed of around 240 to 260 knots, which could be easily supported by Alice.
Clermont Group, a Singapore-based conglomerate, has announced that it has bought a 70% stake in Eviation. This company also owns MagniX, an electric motor manufacturer that provides Eviation with two Magni650 electric motors for Alice.
In 2017, DHL, a global logistics and international shipping giant claimed that they were embarking on the reduction of logistics-related emissions to zero by the year 2050. In the last month, Eviation announced that DHL had ordered twelve Alice aircraft in cargo configuration.
DHL Express network has envisioned the use of Alice eCargo as a step towards sustainable aviation. DHL believes that Alice is an extraordinary sustainable solution that could assist with its aim of reducing the carbon footprint.
Bar-Yohay stated that manufacturing Alice eCargo would come with little modification, for example, there will not be any passenger seats, while the aircraft could be recharged during loading and unloading. Therefore, it could be made operational for many short hauls. Eviation aims to deliver the Alice eCargo to DHL Express by 2024.
References and Further Reading
Ben-David, R. (2021) Israeli all-electric plane maker readies for 1st flight, new ‘age of aviation’. [Online] Available at: https://www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-all-electric-plane-maker-readies-for-1st-flight-new-age-of-aviation/
DHL. (2021) DHL express shapes future for sustainable aviation with the order of first-ever all-electric cargo planes from Eviation. [Online] Available at: https://www.dhl.com/global-en/home/press/press-archive/2021/dhl-express-shapes-future-for-sustainable-aviation-with-the-order-of-first-ever-all-electric-cargo-planes-from-eviation.html
Eviation. Alice:Pure Electric. (2021) [Online] Available at: https://www.eviation.co/
Reynolds, E. (2020) Eviation Alice: The Future of Private Aviation is Electric. [Online] Available at: https://www.elitetraveler.com/luxury-transport/private-jets/eviation-alice-future-private-aviation-electric