|First flight||planned 2020|
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 delayed until early 2020. The certification program was expected to take two to three years. Eviation has US headquarters in Prescott, Arizona, and is co-founded by CEO Omer Bar-Yohay. 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 were planned. The initial, unpressurized model is intended for air taxi operations, with energy stored in a lithium-ion battery, Eviation was working on 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. In 2017, a second pressurized model was to 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. By October 2019, Eviation only describes the Alice Commuter with a pressurized cabin and a 260 kn (480 km/h) cruise speed.
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 nmi (1,050 km) range at 260 kn (482 km/h), or 55% of airline flights according to Flightglobal's Cirium data. While the cost of operation per hour is much lower than for a turboprop aircraft, the Alice's will be slower than some.[importance?]
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. Manufacturing facilities were planned for the US, probably in Prescott, AZ.
The company expected that charging would be achieved by mobile stations; each hour of flight time was expected to require a charging time of 30 minutes.
Eviation was founded in 2015 by Omer Bar-Yohay, Omri Regev and Aviv Tzidon. 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 would 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. A December 2018 report stated that the first flight would follow, with initial flight testing in Prescott using three flying prototypes from the second quarter of 2020. The certification program was 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. At that time, Eviation was hoping 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. Purchasors would be able to specify either the MagniX and Siemens motor. ???
At the June Paris Air Show, a full-size static Alice was exhibited before flight testing in Grant County International Airport near Moses Lake, Washington, assisted by AeroTEC. The first airline customer was 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. Cape Air ordered 92 aircraft, priced at $4 million, as test flights were planned later in 2019 in Arizona.
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.
In October 2019, Eviation planned a 2020 first flight and a 2022 FAA certification. By then, over 150 Alice aircraft were ordered from two American companies. The charger installation was under study for Cape Air, which flies in New York and New England. An investment of $500 million is needed to begin serial production, maybe reached through an IPO.
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)
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