Electricity will be the fuel of the future in aviation, Clay Lacy Aviation senior v-p of operations Scott Cutshall said this morning at the National Air Transportation Association Aviation Business Conference (ABC). Hosted alongside Corporate Jet Investor Miami 2021, NATA’s conference gathered business aviation services leaders to delve into topics ranging from the industry's outlook to aviation transactions, fuel, branding, safety, and the future FBO, among other topics.
Cutshall advised that electric fuel is coming, particularly for short-haul operations. Jeff Kohlman, managing principal of the Aviation Management Consulting Group, added that electric is already here, pointing to advances in electric operations in Seattle and infrastructure beginning to arrive in places such as Arkansas.
Both Cutshall and Kohlman agreed that infrastructure presents a range of issues that must be addressed, from having the standards for charging airplanes to installing the charging stations to space requirements. In addition, questions remain about obtaining the electrical capacity from the utilities and making money off electricity. Kohlman added that state officials are concerned about the taxation of electricity since fuel taxes provide key airport funding.
Clay Lacy Aviation has signed an agreement with Eviation Aircraft, which is developing the all-electric Alice airplane, to provide electric charging stations at all of its locations. Cutshall said the partnership is a “learning exercise” on what is needed for charging infrastructure and also maintaining electric aircraft. He said they are working on developing appropriate specifications that could be shared.
Curt Castagna, president and CEO of Aerolease/Aeroplex Group, also pointed to considerations such as tapping into solar and other electrical sources to ensure that adequate power is available. He noted that the utilities are grappling with their own limitations, particularly with meeting sustainability requirements.