Electric aircraft are all the rage, and they have been for several years, but when are we going to see actual commercial electric airplane options for normal people? Soon! Well, sort of soon. The electric aircraft “Alice” from Eviation Aircraft has been getting real orders lately, including from a young airline based in Florida.
There’s one big story about the Eviation Alice electric airplane from this month, but there are also a few from earlier in the year to catch up on. Let’s catch up on these news developments. For a little background first, note that the production version of the Alice was revealed in July of last year, 2021.
Electric Airplane Flights for Florida, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean
Global Crossing Airlines Group, Inc. (aka GlobalX), based out of Miami, has ordered 50 Alice electric airplanes, which are 9-seaters. Reportedly, with these electric planes, GlobalX is opening up new routes in Florida, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean.
Naturally, with a 9-seat electric airplane, these won’t be the cheapest flights around, but it’s a start. Remember that Tesla started with the Roadster, flat-screen TVs used to cost a fortune, and new technology starts expensive and needs time to work its way down the market. The one big financial bonus to keep in mind, though: the electric aircraft “costs a fraction to operate per flight hour compared to light jets or high-end turboprops.”
If you’re not familiar with GlobalX, don’t be embarrassed, it’s only been operating passenger services for about a year, since August 2021. It currently has just seven A320 family aircraft in operation. Those fly routes in the U.S., the Caribbean, and Latin America. The company also plans to start cargo operations in Q4 2022 with fifteen A321 freighter aircraft it’s leasing.
The additional Alice electric aircraft “will enable GlobalX to introduce new, sustainable flight options for growing markets including Miami, Orlando and the Bahamas.” Naturally, the “sustainable flight” pitch will appeal to many people. Flying is one of the biggest guilty pleasures or conveniences for many climate-concerned people, if not their last notable one. That’s probably even more so when going on a fun unnecessary trip to the Bahamas. GlobalX is also considering using the Alice for cargo flights, currently exploring the potential practicality of that.
GlobalX’s Alice electric airplanes are supposed to be delivered in 2027.
“Eviation’s Alice aircraft is setting the standard in sustainable aviation, and we plan to offer the aircraft to our cruise line, tour operators, leisure travel providers, and business clients with a need for short-haul charter flights across Florida,” said Ed Wegel, Chair and CEO of GlobalX. “The Alice aircraft will allow us to offer sustainable, regional flights to and from major markets, and is the first step in our initiative to be a zero-carbon emissions airline by 2050. We are proud to be a launch customer for Eviation and lead the charge in bringing carbon-free air travel to our passengers.”
Earlier Alice Orders
GlobalX is not the first to order the Alice electric aircraft — not even close. In fact, orders for the electric airplane have been in longer than GlobalX has existed. Cape Air ordered the Alice in June 2019, and in April of this year, Cape Air increased that initially modest order to 75 electric airplanes. “Eviation’s all-electric Alice aircraft can accommodate nine passengers and two crew. Cape Air flies more than 400 regional flights a day to nearly 40 cities in the Northeast, Midwest, Montana and the Caribbean. Deploying a fleet of all-electric Alice aircraft will significantly reduce carbon emissions, as well as maintenance and operational costs for the airline, and provide a smoother and quieter flight experience for passengers.”
In August of last year, DHL Express ordered 12 Alice electric planes. “We firmly believe in the emission-free future of logistics,” said John Pearson, CEO of DHL Express. “That is why we make sure that all investments improve our CO 2 footprint. On our way to environmentally friendly logistics, the electrification of all modes of transport plays a decisive role and contributes significantly to our sustainability goal of zero emissions. DHL Express has been a pioneer in the aviation industry for decades and in Eviation we have found the perfect partner who shares our mission. Together we dare to embark on a new decade of sustainable aviation.”
Investors & Dreamers, Beware
All of this is not to say that electric flight is a done deal, or that Eviation will be a leader in this arena. “Electric aircraft have arrived, but a lot has to happen to make commercial flights a reality. Can they live up to the hype, and can they reduce aviation emissions? We run the numbers,” economist Paul Callister and mathematician Robert McLachlan wrote for CleanTechnica last October. “Electric aircraft are at an exciting stage and may well find a niche. But they also risk turning into one more means of hypermobility for the rich, at a time when all forms of transport need to reduce in emissions, energy, and resources.”
Other Alice Electric Airplane Developments
Eviation also announced a couple of months ago that it was teaming up with Parker Aerospace, getting 6 technology system packages from the company. “The six technology systems that Parker Aerospace will develop for the Alice aircraft will be produced across all divisions within Parker Aerospace as well as Parker’s Engineered Materials Group including Parker LORD. The work packages include:
- Cockpit controls: The human interface with the flight control system, consisting of sidestick, throttle, rudder control and switching devices.
- Electromechanical flap system: Featuring electromechanical actuators, electronic control units and position sensors. The system will incorporate patented eSync technology, which uses a single electronics control unit to command multiple motor-driven actuators installed along the flaps on the wing, saving space and weight.
- Thermal management: Advanced water-cooling equipment for battery and electric propulsion unit heat management, as well as specialized thermal materials for the battery pack.
- Hydraulic powerpacks: For steering and braking systems, these miniature hydraulic systems provide efficient power that is localized. These include reliable, proven components such as accumulators and hydraulic hose assemblies.
- Vibration and noise mitigation: Engine and inverter mounts for a hushed cabin environment.
- Sealing solutions: Elastomeric static and dynamic seal solutions such as a fire seal wall.”
Just last week, Eviation also made a notable move by announcing Gregory Davis as its new CEO. He was already President, since May 2021, but now also moves into the CEO role. “Prior to his role at Eviation, Davis served as Vice President of Customer Service and Product Support for Viking Air Limited, a global leader in utility aircraft services and manufacturer of Series 400 and Guardian 400 Twin Otter aircraft. Before this, he served in an engineering role at Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group, one of the largest privately owned and independent aerospace and defense companies.”
Perhaps most fun of all, though, in December 2021, Eviation unveiled a new Alice executive cabin design. This more luxurious cabin design cuts some of the seating in exchange for new “executive” features. It becomes a 6-passenger layout instead of a 9-passenger layout but adds:
- A beautiful, fully equipped galley with lavatory and sink
- The widest cabin in its class measuring a roomy 6 feet, 4 inches across
- A conveniently placed wardrobe to stow jackets and other personal belongings
- An easily accessible side panel at each seat with a foldable table, personal power outlet and USB slot
- Unrivaled panoramic windows that are 22 inches high and 16.5 inches wide for the largest in class experience
- The largest baggage compartment in its class at 100 cubic feet and a total baggage allowance of 850 pounds – spacious enough to accommodate skis, golfing equipment or bicycles.
Orders of this version of the Alice electric aircraft are supposed to be fulfilled in 2026.
What will the next news about the Eviation Alice be?
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Source: Clean Technica