Electric airplanes are all the rage and have been for several years, but when will we see actual commercial electric airplane options for normal people? Soon! Well, so soon. The electric plane “Alice” from Eviation Aircraft has been getting real orders lately, including from a young airline based in Florida.
There’s one big story about the Eviation Alice electric plane from this month, but there’s also a few from earlier this year to catch up on. Let’s follow this news. For a little background first, note that the production version of Alice was revealed last July, 2021.
Electric airplane flights to Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean
Global Crossing Airlines Group, Inc. (aka GlobalX), based in Miami, has ordered 50 Alice electric planes, which are 9-seaters. With these electric planes, GlobalX is reportedly opening new routes in Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean.
With a 9-seater electric plane, of course it won’t be the cheapest flights, but it’s a start. Remember, Tesla started with the Roadster, flat screen TVs used to cost a fortune, and new technology starts out expensive and needs time to work its way into the market. The one big financial bonus to keep in mind: the electric plane “costs a fraction to operate per flight hour compared to light jets or advanced turboprops.”
If you are not familiar with GlobalX, don’t be embarrassed, it has only been operating passenger services for about a year since August 2021. It currently has only seven A320 family aircraft in operation. These flight routes in the United States, the Caribbean and Latin America. The company also plans to start cargo operations in Q4 2022 with fifteen A321 freighters that it leases.
The additional electric Alice aircraft “will enable GlobalX to introduce new, sustainable flight options to growing markets including Miami, Orlando and the Bahamas.” Naturally, the “sustainable flight” pitch will appeal to many people. Flying is one of the biggest guilty pleasures or conveniences for many climate-concerned people, if not their last notable one. It’s probably even more so when you’re going on a fun, unnecessary trip to the Bahamas. GlobalX is also considering using Alice for cargo flights and is currently investigating its potential practicality.
GlobalX’s Alice electric aircraft are slated for delivery in 2027.
“Eviation’s Alice aircraft set the standard in sustainable aviation, and we plan to offer the aircraft to our cruise lines, tour operators, leisure travel providers and business customers in need of short-haul charter flights across Florida,” said Ed Wegel , chairman and CEO of GlobalX. “The Alice aircraft will allow us to offer sustainable, regional flights to and from major markets and is the first step in our initiative to be a zero-carbon airline by 2050. We are proud to be a launch customer for Eviation and lead the charge by bringing carbon-free air travel to our passengers.”
Previous Alice orders
GlobalX is not the first to order Alice electric planes – not even close. In fact, orders for the electric plane have been around longer than GlobalX has been around. Cape Air ordered Alice in June 2019, and in April this year Cape Air increased the initially modest order 75 electric airplanes. “Eviation’s all-electric Alice aircraft can accommodate nine passengers and two crew members. Cape Air flies more than 400 regional flights a day to nearly 40 cities in the Northeast, Midwest, Montana and The Caribbean. Deploying a fleet of all-electric Alice aircraft will significantly reduce carbon emissions as well as maintenance and operating costs for the airline and provide a smoother and quieter flying experience for passengers.”
Last August, DHL Express ordered 12 Alice electric planes. “We firmly believe in the emission-free future of logistics,” said John Pearson, CEO of DHL Express. “We therefore ensure that all investments improve our CO 2 footprint. On our path towards environmentally friendly logistics, the electrification of all forms of transport plays a crucial 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.”
Investors and dreamers, beware
All of this is not to say that electric flight is a done deal, or that Eviation will be a leader in this arena. “Electric aircraft have arrived, but a lot needs to happen to make commercial flights a reality. Can they live up to the hype and can they reduce aviation emissions? We run the numbers,’ economist Paul Callister and mathematician Robert McLachlan wrote for CleanTechnica October last year. “Electric aircraft are at an exciting stage and may well find a niche. But they also risk becoming another means of hypermobility for the rich at a time when all forms of transport must reduce emissions, energy and resources.”
Other developments of Alice Electric aircraft
Eviation also announced a few months ago that it was partnering with Parker Aerospace and getting 6 technology system packages from the company. “The six technology systems that Parker Aerospace will develop for the Alice aircraft will be produced across all divisions within Parker Aerospace as well as Parker’s Engineered Materials Group including Parker LORD. The work packages contain:
- Cockpit control: The human interface with the flight control system, consisting of side jacks, throttles, rudder controls and switching units.
- Electromechanical flap system: With electromechanical actuators, electronic control units and position sensors. The system will incorporate patented eSync technology, which uses a single electronic controller to control multiple motor-driven actuators installed along the flaps of the wing, saving space and weight.
- Thermal management: Advanced water cooling equipment for battery and electric propulsion unit heat management, as well as specialized thermal materials for the battery pack.
- Hydraulic power packs: For steering and braking systems, these miniature hydraulic systems provide efficient power that is localized. These include reliable, proven components such as accumulators and hydraulic hoses.
- Vibration and noise reduction: Motor and inverter mounting for a quiet cabin environment.
- Sealing solutions: Elastomeric static and dynamic sealing solutions such as a fireproof wall.”
Last week, Eviation also made a notable move by announcing Gregory Davis as its new CEO. He was already president since May 2021, but now also steps into the role of CEO. “Prior to his role at Eviation, Davis served as vice president of customer service and product support for Viking Air Limited, a global leader in commercial aircraft services and manufacturer of Series 400 and Guardian 400 Twin Otter aircraft. Prior to this, he served in an engineering role at Marshall Aerospace and Defense Group, one of the largest privately held and independent aerospace and defense companies.”
Perhaps funniest of all, however, in December 2021, Eviation unveiled a new Alice executive cabin design. This more luxurious cabin design cuts some of the seating in exchange for new “executive” features. It will be a 6-passenger layout instead of a 9-passenger layout, but adds:
- A beautiful, fully equipped galley with toilet and sink
- The widest cabin in its class, measuring a spacious 6 feet, 4 inches across
- A conveniently located wardrobe for storing jackets and other personal belongings
- An easily accessible side panel at each seat with a folding table, personal power outlet and USB slot
- Unrivaled panoramic windows that are 22 inches high and 16.5 inches wide for the largest experience in class
- The largest trunk in its class at 100 cubic feet and a total cargo capacity of 850 pounds – roomy enough to hold skis, golf equipment or bicycles.
Orders for this version of the Alice Electric aircraft are expected to be fulfilled in 2026.
What will be the next news about Eviation Alice?
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