At the 52nd International Paris Air Show, Eviation Aircraft, a member of NASA’s on-demand mobility program, unveiled the first prototype of a new all-electric aircraft concept with a range of up to 600 miles (965 km) – pictured above.
While it was the prototype’s debut this week, Eviation says that they are already flying proof of concept missions, and they plan to move into certification and commercialization as soon as next year.
Omer Bar-Yohay, CEO of Eviation Aircraft, made the announcement:
“At a time when we are more connected than ever, our mobility options must adapt to reflect this new, efficient future. Whether it is a zero emissions, low-cost trip from Silicon Valley to San Diego, or Seoul to Beijing, our all-electric aircraft represents a chance for people to move with the speed and impact our global economy now demands.”
We have recently seen several new efforts to deliver electric aircraft, especially small VTOL aircraft like Lilium’s which got its first maiden flight earlier this year, but Eviation has the most aggressive timeline for commercialization for a plane that could fly 6 to 9 passengers plus 2 crew on long distances.
Electric air transport has been limited by the energy density of batteries, but it looks like several new companies are seeing the recent advancements and they are getting ready to act on it.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who revealed having his own design for a VTOL electric plane, says that such a system becomes possible once battery energy density reaches over 400 Wh/kg, while his Tesla vehicles are believed to be currently powered by battery cells with 250 to 300 Wh/kg.
Eviation claims that its electric aircraft is made possible by a new aluminum air battery:
“Based on an aerial application of Phinergy Ltd’s Aluminum air battery, coupled with a high power rechargeable battery buffer, and managed by a clever mission specific power analytic algorithm, EViation’s energy system is unique. Providing a true solution to both energy density and utilization, at a cost that beats gas, and with zero emissions.”
Furthermore, the company seems to be positioning itself as a Uber-like on-demand transport service.
Mark Moore, Uber Engineering Director of Aviation, also commented on Eviation’s tech:
“We are witnessing a new age in aviation as advances in energy storage and aircraft design bring electric, on-demand air transit within reach. Our focus at Uber is in galvanizing the ecosystem necessary for urban VTOL electric vehicles to thrive for 20-60 mile trips that can provide massive time savings over ground transportation for long trips in cities. In parallel, we are encouraged to see bold new players like Eviation tackling challenges in different sectors using electric aviation; these players will help catalyze demand for new battery and rapid recharging technologies that are crucial to enable electric flight.”
Despite the aggressive timeline, it seems to still be in the early stages, but it’s fun to see more companies looking at electrifying air transport.