In an email to CleanTechnica, DHL Express, the world’s leading express service provider, announced that it has agreed to purchase 12 Alice electric cargo planes from Eviation to create the first electric air freight network in the world. The 12 airplanes will be utilized in the company’s US operations. Eviation expects to deliver the zero emissions cargo aircraft to DHL Express in 2024 with the maiden flight scheduled to take place later this year.
“We firmly believe in the emission-free future of logistics,” says 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. ”
The Alice electric airplane can be flown by a single pilot and has a cargo capacity of 1,200 kilograms (2,600 pounds). The charging time per flight hour is around 30 minutes. Maximum range is 815 kilometers (440 nautical miles). Alice can be used in any environment in which airplanes with piston and turbine engines currently operate. Their highly developed electric motors are extremely reliable, low maintenance, and cost effective due to the lower number of moving parts. In order to promote optimal flight efficiency, the performance of the aircraft in flight is continuously monitored by its operating software.
“From the very beginning, we had the bold goal of transforming the aviation industry and ushering in the age of the electric airplane,” said Omer Bar-Yohay, CEO of Eviation. “Our collaboration with pioneers in sustainable freight transport such as DHL shows that the era of electric aviation has already dawned. Today’s announcement is an important milestone in our plan to revolutionize flight around the world.”
The electric airplane is ideally suited for shorter feeder routes and requires less investment in the station infrastructure. It can be recharged while it is begin loaded and unloaded, which contributes to fast turnaround times. “We’re going to spread them out between the West Coast and the East Coast. These Eviation electric planes will replace some of our current smaller feeder aircraft that we have in those markets,” Mike Parra, CEO of DHL Express Americas, tells CNBC.
“My compliments to Eviation for the innovative development of the fully electric Alice aircraft,” says Travis Cobb, head of aviation at DHL Express. “We want to significantly reduce our carbon footprint and these advanced aircraft will make that possible. For our customers and ourselves, this is a milestone on the way to decarbonizing our business. At the same time, it is also an important step for aviation as a whole.” The Alice can be configured as both a cargo and a passenger aircraft.
“On-demand shopping and on-demand delivery are on the rise,” says Roei Ganzarski, executive chairman of Eviation. “With Alice, DHL can establish a clean, quiet and cost effective operation that will also open up many new applications.”
“DHL represents a very close to the ideal customer for us,” says Eviation founder and CEO Omer Bar-Yohay. “They have the right footprint in the sense that they use planes of similar size to move parcels around today. This kind of goes hand in hand with what we’re doing at Eviation. We’re building Alice to fit existing business models, to fit existing airports, and to really work within the network of the operator.”
While other shipping companies like UPS are considering the use of electric VTOL aircraft (think really, really big drones), Eviation believes conventional aircraft are the best choice for cargo duty. “We’re building fixed wing because we can carry more, we can fly further and faster, it fits in an existing regulatory environment. We don’t need any rule changes to make this happen. We just need to build it.” Bar-Yohay says. “I think that’s a real differentiator between building a fixed wing major size aircraft like this and the other vehicles out there today.”
DHL Group will invest a total of €7 billion by 2030 to reduce its CO2 emissions, particularly into electric vehicles for the last mile delivery, alternative aircraft fuels, and climate neutral buildings. It intends to become a zero emissions company by 2050.