|First flight||planned May/June 2019|
The Eviation Alice is an electric aircraft under development by Eviation Aircraft of Israel. Built 95% from composite materials, it will be controlled by fly-by-wire and powered by three propellers, at the wingtips and the rear fuselage. First flight was planned between the end of May and June 2019, but did not take place. The certification program should take two to three years. With nine passengers and two crew, batteries should give it a range of 540–650 nmi (1,000–1,200 km) at 240 kn (440 km/h), with direct operating cost much lower than turboprop aircraft.
Two versions of the Alice are planned. The initial, unpressurized model will be intended for air taxi operations, with energy stored in a lithium-ion battery, Eviation is building a prototype scheduled to fly in early 2019 and aims to certify it under the FAR Part 23 for IFR and known icing conditions. The second, pressurized model will be an extended-range ER executive aircraft available by 2023 for $2.9 million, with a more powerful aluminum-air battery with a lithium-polymer buffer, a cabin pressurized to 1,200 m (4,000 ft) at FL 280, G5000 avionics, a 444 km/h (240 kn) cruise and 1,367 km (738 nmi) range.
With 260 Wh/kg cells, the 900 kWh battery capacity (3,460 kg, 7,630 lb) gives the design a range of 540–650 nmi (1,000–1,200 km) at 240 knots and 10,000 ft (3,048 m). This is anticipated to increase as battery technology improves. The batteries have been tested to more than 1,000 cycles, equivalent to 3,000 flight hours, and will then require replacement at a cost of $250,000 - half of the direct operating cost, similar to a piston engine overhaul. Based on U.S. industrial electricity prices, the direct operating cost with nine passengers and two crew, flying at 240 kn (440 km/h), will be $200 per hour, which compares to $600–1,000 per hour for existing aircraft of similar purchase price, for operations on routes under 500 nmi (930 km). This includes piston- and turboprop-powered Cessna 402s, Pilatus PC-12 and Beechcraft King Airs. Eviation notes 45% of air routes fall within its 565 nm (1,050 km) range at 260 kt (482 km/h), or 55% of airline flights according to Flightglobal's Cirium data.
The electric drivetrain will have a higher voltage than current electrical systems. The 300-kW and 400-kW chargers will recharge after one hour of flight time in half an hour. Three 260 kW (350 hp) motors drive propellers mounted on the wingtips, located in the vortices to improve efficiency, and mounted on the tail. The unpressurized aircraft will have a flat lower fuselage. The Italian company Magnaghi Aeronautica will supply the landing gear and has already produced the gear for the similarly sized Piaggio P.180 Avanti. It will be built with existing technology, including a composite airframe, distributed propulsion with Siemens electric engines and Honeywell flight control systems, including automatic landing. Mobile charging stations will give one hour of flight per half-hour of charge. At 3,700kg (8,200lb), the battery accounts for 60% of the aircraft take-off weight.
Eviation was founded in 2015. A 650 lb (290 kg) subscale unmanned model prototype was flown to validate the aerodynamics and flight controls. The South Korean Kokam Co., the Solar Impulse 2 battery supplier, was selected to supply pouch lithium polymer batteries to power the full-scale prototype. In February 2018, Eviation was building it with risk-sharing partners for the composite structures, fly-by-wire computers, flight-control logic and flight deck. The drivetrain was expected to be tested by the end of summer 2018 and the integrated system—batteries, motors and controllers with the fly-by-wire flight controls by late 2018 or early 2019 flight tests.
At the end of 2018, Eviation teamed up with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) to launch a research and development program to start in the spring of 2019 at ERAU’s Prescott, Arizona campus. The program will focus on performance analysis, validation and testing, along with preliminary design and sub-scale testing of future electric propulsion and airframe design concepts. Eviation anticipates the public debut of the Alice during the June 2019 Paris Air Show. The first flight will follow, with flight testing in Prescott using three flying prototypes from the second quarter of 2020. The certification program is anticipated to take 24 to 36 months.
By early 2019, Eviation had secured $200 million of investment to cover certification and production while the first prototype was assembled in Vannes, northwest France, where the only composite specialist is Multiplast. Eviation hopes to secure EASA airworthiness approval before the end of May, to fly Alice from Vannes or nearby Nantes, ahead of Paris air show, before shipping it for flight-tests in Prescott, Arizona.
In April 2019, Eviation selected MagniX Magni250s 375 shp (280 kW) electric motors turning at 1,900 rpm as a second power option after Siemens 260 kW motors. First flight of the Alice was then expected for fall 2019, with two prototypes and one production aircraft used for flight tests, certification was then expected in 2021 and service entry in 2022.
At the June Paris Air Show, the first airline customer was as announced: Hyannis, Massachusetts-based Cape Air, already operating a fleet of 92 piston-twins, Cessna 402C and Britten-Norman BN-2 Islanders, and having ordered up to 100 Tecnam P2012 Travellers. The aircraft is priced at $4 million.
MagniX investor Clermont Group from Singapore took a 70% stake in Eviation Aircraft in August 2019, concluding negotiations started in January; certification was then expected in 2022 as was service entry.
Specifications (air taxi model)
Data from Eviation
- Crew: 2
- Capacity: 9 passengers, maximum payload of 1,250kg (2,750lb)
- Length: 12.2 m (40 ft 0 in)
- Wingspan: 16.12 m (52 ft 11 in)
- Max takeoff weight: 6,350 kg (13,999 lb)
- Fuel capacity: 900 kWh, Li-ion
- Powerplant: 3 × electric motors , 260 kW (350 hp) each
- Cruise speed: 482 km/h (300 mph, 260 kn) at 3,000 m (10,000 ft)
- Never exceed speed: 630 km/h (390 mph, 340 kn)
- Range: 1,046 km (650 mi, 565 nmi) including IFR reserve
- Service ceiling: 9,100 m (29,900 ft)
- Approach speed: 185 km/h; 115 mph (100 kn)
- Kate Sarsfield (8 Jan 2019). "Eviation secures funding for all-electric Alice". Flightglobal.
- Kerry Lynch and Chad Trautvetter (December 28, 2018). "Eviation, ERAU Join Forces on Electric Aircraft". AIN online.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
- "'World's first' fully-electric plane unveiled by Israeli company". Israel National News. 2019-06-21.
- Paul Jackson (Oct 8, 2017). "Emerging Aircraft: Props And Turboprops". Aviation Week Network.
- Graham Warwick (Feb 26, 2018). "Batteries Ready To Power Electric Regional Aircraft, Says Eviation". Aviation Week & Space Technology.(subscription required)
- Jon Hemmerdinger (22 Apr 2019). "MagniX to supply Eviation Alice motors as all-electric advances". Flightglobal.
- Kate Sarsfield (18 June 2019). "Cape air named as launch customer for the Alice electric aircraft". Flightglobal.
- Grady, Mary (6 March 2018). "Eviation Chooses Battery Supplier". AVweb. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
- Kate Sarsfield (30 Aug 2019). "Clermont acquires Eviation Aircraft". Flightglobal.
- "Alice". Eviation.