Published on December 25th, 2018 | by Nicolas Zart0
Eviation Aircraft Plans 9-Seat Electric Airplane — Coming Soon? #CleanTechnica Interview
December 25th, 2018 by Nicolas Zart
Eviation Aircraft Partners With Embry-Riddle
Eviation Aircraft has announced that it was selected by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for research and development associated with a four-year undergraduate engineering program in its Prescott campus. The program will start in spring of 2019. Embry-Riddle is well known as the world’s largest fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace.
The university will use Eviation’s zero-emission electric aircraft solutions to focus on performance analysis, validation & testing, and future electric propulsion and airframe design concepts. Students can contribute to and take part in the early design and sub-scale testing of aircraft, something not normally done until after studies in professional life.
According to Embry-Riddle Chancellor Dr. Frank Ayers: “Embry Riddle is at the forefront of aviation innovation and we are excited to partner with Eviation Aircraft and deliver on our commitment to exposing students to groundbreaking technology. … By including Embry-Riddle engineers and students in the R&D pool, Eviation and the Alice Aircraft will take advantage of the exposure and knowledge from our best and brightest engineers.”
Omer Bar-Yohay, CEO of Eviation, was quoted as saying: “With one of the oldest and most well-respected universities at the helm, we’re confident that the Alice Aircraft is in good hands and we look forward to partnering with the prestigious university. … As we innovate within one of the world’s most polluting industries, we look forward to partnering with Embry-Riddle to further our mission, vision, and electric mobility development.”
CleanTechnica Talks With Eviation Aircraft CEO Omer Bar-Yohay
Our talk with Omer highlighted the primary strength of electric aviation and its economic sense, especially when it comes to maintenance and energy. I wanted to know about his motivation for starting the company. He told me that the way we move people is broken. This explains why people in the US still prefer to drive long hours rather than fly or us public transportation (trains included).
About design, we noticed the Alice has very generous windows, something only seen on a Gulfstream. Omer was quick to point that it was even bigger than the Gulfstream’s signature round windows.
He pointed out that the company gets more traction from Tier1 than OEMS. We hope this will change soon, as startups have played an incredible role in the electrification of our mobility. He said that the company is bridging distances by opening a range of new destinations accessible for on-demand transportation, which enables emission-free air travel for the price of a train ticket.
Eviation Aviation Could Be The Learjet of the 2020s, The Tesla of the Skies, and the Burt Rutan of the Future
I walked away feeling the “electric revolution” is well underway, and not only with road EVs. The convergence of land, sea, and air EVs is happening at an unprecedented pace. Garmin, Dassault, Boeing, Terrafugia, and Byton all share one thing — autonomous vehicle (AV) technology with root in aerospace.
Eviation Aircraft is one of those startups that put the electric drive’s constant evolution to good use. I’m not sure if it’s the modern LearJet of the air space or the Tesla of the skies, or even the new Burt Rutan, but it certainly is a welcome electrified sky contender.
The Eviation Aircraft’s Alice and Orca, and its partnership with the Embry-Riddle University, reopen the dream of avoiding the airport hub nightmare by opening secondary routes again. This is something I certainly look forward to.
After spending minutes on the phone with Omer, it was clear his passion for electric aviation makes Eviation Aircraft a serious contender in the electric aviation world.
9-Seat Electric Airplane?
Eviation Aircraft solely focuses on electric air mobility solutions. The global startup uses an old efficient design possible today by placing the propellers behind the electric motor.
The current problem is that the internal combustion engine (ICE) runs hot and needs constant cooling. That’s why most propellers and turbofans are in front of their engines. Electric motors solve that problem, which gives us more aircraft design possibilities with electric vertical take-off & landing (eVTOL) aircraft. (Sound familiar?)
Omer told us that one of the motivations behind Eviation Aircraft was to improve the way we travel. The company started in 2015 and will debut its 9-passenger regional commuter, called the Alice, at the 53rd Paris Air Show in June 2019. Alice will be commercially available in 2021 if all goes as planned.
The company is working on two electric aircraft, with the other being the autonomous electric aircraft Orca. Both use the company’s own thermal management system coupled with a pouch lithium-ion battery pack, as well as Eviation’s autonomous landing platform. The company also makes use of composite body frames.
Eviation Aircraft Electric Specs
The 14,000 lb Alice, batteries included, will cruise at 260 knots (300 mph or 481 km/h) and have 650 miles (1046 km or ~435 nm) of range. The aircraft can recharge in under 3 hours. A full-scale prototype will be ready by 2019. The company chose Hartzell Propellers for its propellers.
Omer says flying a business jet averages around $3,000 per hour. An electric airplane slashes that cost by about 90%. Since an electric aircraft is 92 to 95% more efficient than its kerosene counterpart, it also has to take into consideration the same weight when it lands. While this might sound puzzling, modern airliners are designed to take off and land with the same full weight constraints in case of emergency. (If not, I wouldn’t set foot in any.)
I expected Omer to be vague with the battery specs, but he told me all of this was achievable with a 400Wh/kg battery, which is less than twice that of most modern prognostics. With 900 kWh, the battery pack makes up 65% of the weight of the aircraft. The electric motors produce 3× 260 kW of power. This gives the Alice a service ceiling of 30,000 ft (9,144 m) and an approach landing speed of 100 knots.
Omer said the aircraft will have augmented abilities, which paves the way for autonomous flying. Autonomous vehicle technology has matured over the past 30 years in the airspace industry. Modern jetliners have been practically autonomous for decades.