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First All-Electric Commuter Airplane Takes Maiden Flight
Eviation Alice – the first all-electric commuter plane – made its maiden flight on Wednesday from Grant County International Airport at Moses Lake, Wash. The airplane took off at 7:11 a.m. and landed 7:19 a.m. local time .
Despite being only 8-minute long, this is a historic moment for electric aviation. Alice is the first blank sheet design airplane of this size. Cape Air is the launch customer for this type and holds an order of 75 aircraft. GlobalX also inked a Letter of Intent for 50 of the company’s airplanes just a week before the first flight. In the meantime, DHL also holds an order for 12 cargo versions of this airplane.
Alice can carry nine passengers and has a maximum range of 440 NM (815 km) with a payload of 2,500 lb (1,100 kg). The airplane uses two MagniX Magni650 engines. MagniX had previously tested its smaller Magni500 engine on a converted Cessna 208 aircraft and is testing the larger Magni750 engine on a converted De Havilland Canada Beaver aircraft. The Singaporean Investment Group Clermont owns both MagniX and Eviation, which made Magnix the obvious choice to supply its engine.
The plane has evolved from its original configuration. When the company first launched the airplane at the 2019 Paris Air Show, the aircraft used a pusher motor and two smaller wingtip motors. The first prototype burned down during testing due to ground equipment faults.
On the other hand, the flight demonstrator features two rear-mounted engines, more akin to a traditional regional jet. It has a unique fuselage design, presumably to provide additional lift and increase energy efficiency. The company will use the flight demonstration program results to iterate the plane to its final production configuration.
The Israeli company has been hinting at the approaching of this milestone for nearly a year now. It first started ground taxi testing at the company’s U.S. headquarter in Arlington, Wash, back in December 2021. The company had to pause testing after its sole test aircraft failed, causing the plane to skid the runway.
After receiving concerns from the community, the manufacturer relocated the test article. It trucked the plane to its current location – the home of its technology partner- AeroTEC’s flight test center at Moses Lake. After reassembling the airplane, the electric-plane maker started ground testing again and finally achieved its maiden flight. Moses Lake is a popular flight test destination for Boeing test flights, and it certainly provided a lot more convenience to the electric plane’s test program.
At the launch, the company expected an Entry into Service date in 2024. However, it has since been pushed back to 2026. Regardless of everything the company promised, the company still has a long way to go before reaching that milestone. It’s unknown how the company will achieve its goals when it’s only posting one engineering position at the peak growth time. Nonetheless, the first flight is a significant achievement, and the world will watch what comes next.
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