This year’s Paris Air Show is brimming with technological innovations from a variety of startups that dream of disrupting the traditional aviation travel paradigm. One of the more interesting ideas comes from Eviation Aircraft, a first-time Paris exhibitor that just launched an all-electric airplane designed to fly for 600 or so nautical miles at a cost similar to travel by airliner (or even bus) over the same distances.
The Israeli startup plans to build a prototype next year of the three-engine distributed-propulsion aircraft that would feature one electric motor at the tail and one on each wingtip for unheard of aerodynamic efficiency. The claim is that the motors on the wingtips would enable significant drag reduction while variable power could also be used for yaw control, managed automatically by software, said Eviation co-founder and CEO Omer Bar-Yohay.
The first Eviation production model is slated to arrive in 2020. It will carry six to nine passengers using electric motors supplied either by Yasa of England or Siemens of Germany as well as 6,000 pounds of batteries. If that sounds like a lot, well, it is – but it’s necessary to propel the aircraft, which will have a max takeoff weight of just under 12,000 pounds, a max payload of 2,750 pounds and a cruise speed of 240 ktas, all fairly incredible projections from a company that wants to change the world of aviation, and maybe the world in general.
“At a time when we are more connected than ever, our mobility options must adapt to reflect this new, efficient future,” said Bar-Yohay. “Whether it is a 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.”
Eviation was formed by Bar-Yohay and two other Israeli entrepreneurs. The company is being self-funded for now, but the trio plans to start raising the capital necessary for the certification effort in the coming months and eventually hopes to partner with an established airframe manufacturer on the ambitious project.
The composite aircraft would feature a V tail and sit atop long landing gear. Eviation will take advantage of new regulations created in the upcoming Part 23 rewrite, which has the goal of cutting aircraft certification costs and allowing new technologies such as electric propulsion to be used in general aviation for the first time.
A follow-on version of Eviation’s unusual airplane would seat as many as 13 people, cruise at 30,000 feet and be powered by aluminum fuel cell technology, for which Eviation already owns the intellectual property.
Price for the smaller initial version is targeted at around $2.6 million, while the larger aircraft would sell for about $4 million and be positioned as a competitor to the Pilatus PC-12 and Beech King Air 350.
Even with the hefty price tag, Eviation’s founders say the cost per seat mile for an aircraft that requires no jet fuel or avgas would be under 10 cents, making regional travel aboard its electric aircraft as economical as airline travel today.