The entire world is moving to eliminate fossil fuels by using the Forces of Nature (the Air, Water, Earth, and Sun) to create the clean electricity that will power our civilization. But the question everyone asks is – how will we replace fossil fuels in heavy duty transportation equipment, especially airplanes?
Today, Washington-based company Eviation is preparing for the first test flights of its gorgeous Alice, an all-electric 9-seat luxury plane with an impressive 440 nautical mile (506-mile, 814-km) range from a single charge of its huge 820-kWh battery pack.
The Alice will use electric motors to power its three variable pitch pusher props, one on a pod at the end of each wing and a third on the tail. The latter is designed to accelerate fast-moving air around the fuselage and turn the whole body into a bonus wing surface for extra lift.
The prototype is a striking looking aircraft, all space-age looking with its big v-tail and a high-lift fuselage. It will carry crew and passengers at cruise speeds up to 253 mph (407 km/h).
Eviation says the low noise output of its electric powertrain will make a significant contribution to passenger comfort.
To manage the 506 mile range, the Alice will carry an 8,200 lb lithium-ion battery – about half of the aircraft’s 14,700-lb maximum takeoff weight. To compensate, the plane is built with lightweight composite materials.
Eviation says the Alice and other early electrics like it will be the start of a price-driven snowball in the aviation business. Similar to electric cars, they’ll likely be more expensive up front than a traditional fuel-burning plane due to the high cost of lithium batteries.
But their vastly reduced maintenance and fuel costs will make them dramatically cheaper to run. Eviation is betting that it won’t take too long before fossil burners are struggling to compete – at least in this size class and for shortish flights of 500 miles (805 km) or less.
The future is now!
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The Alice runs three variable-pitch electric props, two on the wing tips and one at the tail designed to accelerate air around the body and develop extra lift
Jean-Marie Liot / Eviation
Jean-Marie Liot / Eviation
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