The Ampaire hybrid-electric EEL demonstrator aircraft completed a 1,633-nm mission from Camarillo, California, to Oshkosh, Wisconsin on July 22. The EEL is on display at EAA AirVenture’s Boeing Plaza. The trip included the longest nonstop flight ever made by a hybrid-electric aircraft—986 nm.
Ampaire test pilot Elliot Seguin took off from Camarillo Airport on July 20 to reposition to Mojave Airport in order to avoid the potential for early morning fog the next day. On July 21, he flew 986 nm from Mojave to Hays, Kansas. On July 22, he completed the trip, flying 574 nm to Oshkosh’s Wittman Regional Airport.
Based on the twin-engine Cessna 337 Skymaster, the EEL demonstrated fuel savings of up to 40 percent versus a standard aircraft, according to the company. The EEL is a parallel hybrid, retaining one conventional piston engine and with one independent electric drivetrain. The aircraft made its first flight in 2019.
“We are taking the technology and expertise developed with the electrical EEL and applying it to our first commercial product, the hybrid-electric nine-seat Eco Caravan regional aircraft, which will make its first flight later this year,” said Susan Ying, Ampaire senior v-p of global partnerships. “That aircraft will demonstrate fuel savings up to 70 percent.”
Ampaire has secured a firm order for five Eco Caravans from WingTips, a charter broker that arranges flights in California, Arizona, and Nevada. The orders are backed by deposits, and according to Ampaire, the purchase is expected to grow to another 175 Eco Caravans along with 50 Eco Otters, Ampaire's next hybrid-electric conversion program of the 19-seat Twin Otter. The Eco Caravan is expected to enter service in 2024.