An Israeli startup called Eviation Aircraft unveiled its first prototype electric airplane today at the International Paris Air Show, with flight testing planned at Moses Lake in central Washington state.
Eviation CEO Omer Bar-Yohay told reporters that his company hopes to win certification for the Alice airplane from the Federal Aviation Administration by late 2021 or early 2022.
Redmond, Wash.-based MagniX plans to provide one of two electric propulsion options for the nine-passenger plane, which is designed to serve regional routes.
Eviation’s first customer will be Cape Air, which is headquartered in Massachusetts but flies general-aviation commuter routes in the Midwest, Montana and the Caribbean as well as in the northeastern United States. Bar-Yohay told reporters at the Paris show that Cape Air will get a “double-digit fleet” of the planes in the next five years. List price is $4 million per plane, he said. (Traditionally, airplane buyers get a better deal for bulk purchases.)
Eviation is one of several companies working on all-electric or hybrid-electric aircraft for the regional market. Bothell, Wash.-based Zunum Aero, for example, is working on a hybrid airplane with backing from Boeing and JetBlue, on a similar development timeline.
Bar-Yohay stressed that Eviation’s Alice was designed from the ground up to be all-electric. “It’s not a retrofit of anything,” he said. “It is built the way a plane should be built in the 21st century.”
Alice will pack more than 8,200 pounds’ worth of batteries, which will account for most of the plane’s maximum takeoff weight of 14,000 pounds. “It’s a large battery with some plane painted on it,” Bar-Yohay joked.
Because of its lightweight carbon-composite structure, Alice will be able to fly 650 miles on a charge, at a speed of 276 mph and altitude of 10,000 feet, Bar-Yohay said.
The prototype that was on display behind him at the air show was built in France, and has not yet flown. Bar-Yohay said the plane would be transported to Eviation’s facility in Prescott, Ariz., for ground testing. Future planes would most likely be built in Prescott, he said.
The bulk of the flight tests would be conducted at Moses Lake’s airport in partnership with Seattle-based AeroTEC. Moses Lake’s Grant County International Airport is off the beaten track for commercial air service, but it’s a popular flight test site and airplane storage facility for companies including Boeing and Mitsubishi.
Eviation has forged partnerships with MagniX as well as with Siemens for Alice’s three-motor propulsion system. Bar-Yohay said it’s likely that both motors would be offered as options — just as, say, Boeing 787 Dreamliner jets can be purchased with engines from either Rolls-Royce or GE.
Bar-Yohay noted that MagniX and Siemens are both working to get their motors certified. “We wish good luck to both sides,” he said, “and the winner will be the one that we fly with in the beginning.”