In addition to being the year of the Tesla Model 3, 2017 is turning out to be a major year for flying aircraft that are also electric and autonomous. Soaring cars, driving saucers, flying pontoons-bikes, and electric airplanes have broken into the news regularly. Another electric airplane contender from EViation is moving its product past regulations and certifications and hopes to be in active commercial service by 2021, with a prototype next year.
Electric EViation Aircraft With a Twist
While most current electric aircraft are modified or converted regular gasoline planes, EViation decided to go another route — it decided to design its next aircraft electric from the get go. Designing from a blank slate allows for a review of every component, as well as its relationship to the aircraft. In this case, the airframe, propeller, and motor were highly maximized for flight efficiency, which of course means that their energy usage was made more efficient.
As far as who EViation is, its vision is a good place to start: “Making electric aviation the fast, competitive and clean answer to on-demand mobility for people and goods.” To date, the company’s IP portfolio includes thermal management and autonomous landing. It is also well placed for certification, as its aircraft presently faces zero regulatory hurdles. The company was able to design an aircraft that is compliant with current certifications.
According to Omer Bar-Yohay, CEO of EViation Aircraft, on Aviation Pros: “At a time when we are more connected than ever, our mobility options must adapt to reflect this new, efficient future. Whether it is zero emissions, low-cost trip from Silicon Valley to San Diego, or Seoul to Beijing, our all-electric aircraft represents a chance for people to move with the speed and impact our global economy now demands.”
Nice, but where would it fly to exactly? EViation believes a growing number of regional flight operators might take a certain liking to their electric aircraft.
Electric EViation Battles on the Regional Front
While we tend to think of trans-continental flights first when thinking about airplanes, regional is really where it is happening for the flight industry. At the very least, this segment shows the most potential and could alleviate our aggravated road traffic congestion.
Regional air transit is the backbone of the transportation industry, with local operators spending up to 7% of their operating costs on maintenance. Targeting this section, which requires more frequent takeoffs and landings, is actually a good thing for an electric airplane company to do.
EViation is another company betting on electric aircraft and regional traveling until we can fly further on electric motors and batteries and with more passengers onboard. EViation will complete its certification and commercialization by 2018 and expects to show its first commercial flights by 2021. That’s the timeline many automakers have for their first long-range electric cars and self-driving cars.
Electric UAV Systems from EViation, Technically Speaking
Although the EViation’s ORCA unmanned autonomous vehicle (UAV) might not look like the commercial airplane the company will probably present next year, we do have some specs for the UAV.
We know its payload is 150 liters (33 gallons) and 50 kilos (110 pounds). Using a 120 VAC, 12 VDC, and 2 kW platform, the EViation system can cruise at 144 knots (161 mph), hitting a maximum of 210 knots. This gives it a range of 800 kilometers (roughly 500 miles) for 8 hours of 30,000 ft cruising altitude. Not bad at all for a little aircraft that was designed and built from the ground up with distributed electric propulsion in mind.
The system uses Phinergy’s Li-Po, 38 kWh aluminum-air battery, with a high-power rechargeable battery buffer. The EViation electric aircraft weighs 250 kg, with a peak power output of 144 kW, or 12 kW in regular cruising conditions.
Electric EViation Aircraft & the Future
So far, EViation is concentrating on manually operated and autonomous electric aircraft, in general. In fact, its UAVs set a benchmark for environmentally friendly inspection, surveillance and delivery missions, thanks to their unique electric propulsion design, offering extremely quiet, clean, and efficient air transport.
You can catch a glimpse of EViation if you happen to be near an air show. In the meantime, check out their website to find where they will be next. But in the meantime, scroll through the evolution of the VTOL just for fun.
We hope the electric EViation aircraft really does take off — bad pun intended — and look forward to them swinging by Los Angeles for an interview.