Eviation, which has been described as the “Tesla of aircraft” for working on the first compelling long-range electric aircraft, has unveiled the production version of its Alice aircraft.
It has a shorter range than previously announced.
After Eviation unveiled the prototype of its Alice aircraft back in 2017, the company attracted a lot of attention and comparison with Tesla because the aircraft was amongst the first all-electric plane that was viable for actual commercial use.
It boasted a range of up to 600 miles (965 km) and a capacity of up to nine passengers, making it viable for some short-haul regional airlines.
Now, a few years later, Eviation is unveiling the production version of the Alice electric aircraft with a few more details:
“Alice, a nine-passenger, two-crew member aircraft, produces no carbon emissions, significantly reduces noise, and costs a fraction to operate per flight hour. The aircraft is powered by two magni650 electric propulsion units from magniX, the only flight proven electric propulsion systems at this scale. The advanced fly-by-wire system is made by Honeywell, the market leader in such systems. The single-volume, high-energy density Alice battery system is made from currently available battery cells and is not reliant on future advancements. These proven technologies and design elements make it easy and reliable for pilots to seamlessly transition to flying the Alice and will create a superior passenger flying experience, accelerating the aircraft’s path to market.”
Here’s a render of the updated version, which notably features a wider fuselage than the prototype:
Thankfully, we are not just talking about renders here as the Israel-based company does have a prototype of the aircraft, which they plan to fly for the first time later this year:
The bad news is that the aircraft had its performance downgraded with the production version as Eviation is now only talking about a range of 440 nautical miles.
Here’s the full spec sheet of the electric aircraft:
Despite the range downgrade, the aircraft could still prove useful on some routes thanks to its much lower operation cost due to fuel savings.
Again, Eviation is planning to hold an inaugural flight later this year, but the certification process is going to take a while, and Alice is not expected to go into service until 2024.
It still could become one of the first all-electric planes in commercial operation.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who has 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.
Battery technology is improving at a rapid pace, and many prototype battery cells have claimed to have reached the 400 Wh/kg barrier.
However, bringing those cells to volume production is the hard part.
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