The world's first electric transport aircraft, Eviation Aircraft's "Alice", has successfully completed its first flight
Eviation Aircraft makes aviation history with the first successful flight of an aircraft designed to carry passengers
The flight lasted only eight minutes, but that was enough to make it a record. "Alice", the aircraft developed by the Israeli-American company Eviation Aircraft, designed for commercial passenger transport, took off at the end of September from its base in Moses Lake in the United States and flew over the state of Washington without a hitch. This was a major success for the airline industry, which has been under a lot of pressure recently and has come under fire for its impact on CO2 emissions. Following this inaugural flight, Gregory Davis, the company's CEO, announced that he had "made aviation history".
A 100% electric aircraft that emits no CO2 in flight
While electric aircraft are already flying and available for sale, such as Pipistrel's Velis Electro, which is leased by the French company Green Aerolease, Alice has the particularity of being an aircraft designed to carry passengers. Until now, the 100% electrically powered aircraft that have flown have been small, such as the Velis Electro, which is capable of carrying a maximum of two passengers and is intended for training young pilots. The Alice aircraft, on the other hand, can carry up to ten passengers and two pilots, with a range of 800 kilometres. In short, this aircraft will revolutionise inter-regional, medium-distance journeys, between two medium-sized cities for example, by making it possible to drastically reduce the CO2 emitted by flights (Alice does not emit any) and also to make them more accessible financially. The operating costs of electric aircraft should be much lower than those of traditional thermal aircraft.
When will this aircraft be available to the general public?
For the time being, the electric passenger aircraft is in the testing stage. Once these have been validated, the aircraft will have to undergo a whole wave of various certifications before it can be made available to the general public. Travelling in an electric aircraft is therefore not for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, initial estimates indicate that it could become a reality by 2024/2025. In any case, this successful trial demonstrates the immediate potential of electric aviation and confirms that "the era of sustainable aviation is here", as Geoff Kehr, VP Global Fleet Management at DHL Express, has already anticipated this and placed orders for several aircraft.
Alice should also only be available for regional transport, with a small number of passengers, and is therefore not in line with large aircraft such as Boeing or Airbus. For the time being, only light aviation will be able to benefit from this new electric motorisation allowing decarbonised flight.
This is why OpenFly, as the first private aircraft rental portal, is following this with the utmost attention.
What other electric aircraft projects are underway?
Several electric or hybrid aircraft projects are underway, and Eviation Aircraft is one of the most advanced manufacturers. Whether hybrid, electric or hydrogen, the aircraft of the future will have to incorporate an engine that reduces the carbon impact of flights!
The main challenge for the aviation sector in the electric sector is the weight of the batteries. The Alice aircraft carries 3600 kg of batteries: a considerable weight which currently prevents the idea of larger aircraft being equipped with an electric motor.
Among the other 'decarbonised' aircraft projects, the French company VoltAero, which emerged from a Franco-European aeronautics project with the ambition of developing a family of modular hybrid electric aircraft, is also to be followed very closely.
Renting an electric plane: how much does it cost?
Today it is not possible to rent an electric plane on OpenFly for travel. But as soon as these aircraft are available on the market, it will become so! It is estimated that in the long term, the rental price of electric aircraft should be nearly 50% lower than that of current thermal aircraft.
That is why at OpenFly we strongly believe in the potential of light aviation, including 4 to 10 seaters, and we are convinced that it will be the first to offer travellers a greener and decarbonised transport option, in line with the environmental issues we are facing.
This is why we are continuing to develop our private aircraft rental portal, with the aim of integrating this type of aircraft as soon as they are available on the market and thus enabling inter-regional travel with low CO2 emissions.