Civil aviation enters the era of electric propulsion. Alice, the first aircraft powered by lithium batteries, capable of carrying nine passengers or 1.2 tons of cargo for more than 800 kilometers at a speed of 400 km per hour, will make its debut this year in the skies of the United States. , to enter scheduled service starting next year in New England, with the regional carrier Cape Air, and in 2024 as cargo with DHL.
The Israeli-American startup Eviation, which presented the final version of Alice at the Paris Motor Show in 2019, has been delayed for a year in its development plans by the Covid-19 pandemic, but is now ready to face the first orders . In both cases, they are bold clients, willing to experiment with a very promising new technology, but whose economic basis has not yet been tested in the field.
Eviation, which moved its base from Israel to the Seattle area last year to take advantage of the aerospace experience of the region that hosts Boeing, already had a backlog of over 150 orders in 2019, but after the blow of the pandemic, which hit the industry hard, it is unclear how many of these orders are still operational.
Commercial flights ready
The company founded by Omer Bar-Yohay is not the first to try the electric road, but for now it is the only one ready to go on the market with a commercial aircraft. The famous round-the-world tour of Solar Impulse, the solar-powered single-seater piloted by Bertrand Piccard, was nothing more than an experiment.
But launching an electric plane that could carry enough passengers over a distance long enough to become profitable seemed a long way off. After years of hard work, however, the Eviation team is turning this dream into reality.