drone certificationElectric airplanes race toward market

July 8, 2021by helo-10

ZeroAvia and Eviation Aircraft Inc. both projected in recent announcements that 2024 will be the year their electric aircraft enter service. Each is blending proven technologies with innovation in hope that will speed the certification process. For ZeroAvia, that means using a hydrogen fuel cell to store energy and overcome the limits of batteries. Eviation, on the other hand, is using current state-of-the-art batteries to power electric motors in a clean-sheet aircraft optimized for electric propulsion.

ZeroAvia, with operations in Hollister, California, and the United Kingdom, announced on June 29 that a pair of 19-seat Dornier 228 twin-engine aircraft will be retrofitted with electric motors and compressed hydrogen tanks for zero-emission flight, the next step in a progression that began with test flights in a single-engine Piper. The company also announced another influx of investor capital: $13 million inbound from various venture capital entities including Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, which brought ZeroAvia’s running total to $37 million in private investment to date in the development of hydrogen-fueled aviation propulsion, with millions more having been committed by the U.K. government to boost development of zero-emission airliners.

ZeroAvia in recent years successfully converted a Piper M-Class single-engine six-seater to run on hydrogen, all along with stated intention to scale up to larger aircraft, ultimately with more than 50 seats.

Eviation Aircraft, founded in Israel, has taken up residence in Arlington, Washington, not far from electric aviation pioneer magniX, and that does not appear to be coincidental. Roei Ganzarski, the CEO of magniX, also serves as executive chairman of Eviation. The aspiring airframer described its new Alice prototype as a “nine-passenger, two-crew member aircraft” with a maximum payload of 2,500 pounds. These and other specifications announced, including a 220-knot maximum cruise speed and 440-nautical-mile range, remain subject to change, the company noted.

Alice will be powered by a pair of maxni650 electric motors, controlled by a fly-by-wire system designed by Honeywell, and draw energy from a single-volume battery made with currently available cells that “is not reliant on future advancements,” the company noted in its announcement. “These proven technologies and design elements make it easy and reliable for pilots to seamlessly transition to flying the Alice and will create a superior passenger flying experience, accelerating the aircraft’s path to market.”

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