Eviation (Chalet 282, Static B8) is unveiling a prototype electric aircraft at the Paris Air Show. The aircraft is designed to revolutionize regional commuting when certified in around 2021, according to the Israel-based company.
Omer Bar-Yohay, Eviation CEO and co-founder, said he founded the company to change the way people move regionally. The all-electric aircraft, known as project Alice, is designed to enable high-speed, sustainable airborne commuting, tightly integrated with on-demand ground transport solutions. “The first fully operational Alice [is] be on display at this year’s Paris Air Show and will begin test flights towards the end of the year,” Bar-Yohay told AIN.
Established in 2015, Eviation’s headquarters are in Israel, with a U.S. office in Prescott, Arizona. “The Eviation team is comprised of entrepreneurs, pilots, engineers, experienced in leading successful tech companies and programs and committed to building a tool aimed at bringing electric aircraft to the masses,” he said. “The product is built as a very light commuter airplane, but [benefits from many] advanced technologies because it is all-electric. We wanted an airplane that would be dramatically more efficient. We wanted to use distributed propulsion to do this.”
Eviation claims that the aircraft is already in a position to be certified to fly; no major rewrite of certification regulations are required to get it approved. “We are in the process of certification," he said, "and we anticipate the plane to be fully certified by 2021."
Eviation selected Siemens to provide the electric propulsion systems for the Alice electric airplane, claiming the collaboration marked a significant point in the commercialization of the aircraft. However, in an interview with U.S. student TV network Cheddar on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in February, Bar-Yohay admitted that Alice’s battery weight, at 7,800 pounds, is over half the aircraft’s maximum takeoff weight of 14,000 pounds.
“The difference between the technology of 2019 and 2022, in most cases, is not batteries or motors, [but] the lightweight materials [used] for the rest of the plane,” he said. “The challenge we face now is taking a battery that is half the weight of the plane and finding materials light enough to accommodate the aerodynamics of the plane’s design. Today’s battery capabilities are already able to power flights up to 650 miles, a distance encompassing half of the world’s 4.5 billion flights annually. However, as of now, the technology to power large passenger [aircraft] is not there yet, but is only a matter of time.”
Vannes, France-based Carboman Group (Hall 2B B67), which specializes in manufacturing composite structures, is collaborating with Eviation on the Alice aircraft structure and is presenting its new lightweight carbon-fiber fuselage for the project at the show. “Carboman will also showcase composite parts for new mobility flying solutions and announce [its] latest capacity expansions for aerospace customers in the aviation and space sectors at the [Paris Airshow],” the French company said.
Eviation’s Orca unmanned aircraft system (UAS) project is also likely to attract attention at the show. “Eviation’s Orca is a smart, autonomous aerial vehicle that offers the ultimate platform for a low operating-cost solution,” Bar-Yohay said. “Complete with automatic takeoff and landing, the Orca will be economically and environmentally efficient with its highly adaptable and modular design. Though the Alice is our focus as of right now, we do have [other] projects in the works. Stay tuned.”