Ampaire has just reported that its Eco Caravan, a nine-seat regional aircraft, “has made its first flight on a fully-integrated hybrid-electric propulsion system”. Ampaire expects it to be the first electrified regional aircraft to enter commercial service (certification in 2024) and the first in a series of larger Ampaire hybrid-electric aircraft that will lead a transition to sustainable aviation.
“Aviation is the hardest industry to decarbonize,” said Ampaire CEO Kevin Noertker. “Fully-electric aircraft are range limited because of the weight and energy capacity of current-generation batteries. Hybrid-electric aircraft, however, can preserve the range and utility of today’s aircraft. That is why we are focused on hybrid-electric propulsion for a series of increasingly capable regional aircraft. It’s a way for the airline industry to decarbonize more quickly and also to benefit from lower operating costs.”
In October, the company announced a relationship with Air France Industries KLM Engineering and Maintenance (AFI KLM E&M) for a range of worldwide maintenance service and support activities. Also last month, Ampaire received an order from MONTE, a financier of sustainable regional aviation technologies, for up to 50 Eco Caravans. “These types of relationships ensure that Ampaire’s customers worldwide have compelling financing and leasing support alongside world class maintenance/repair/overhaul support,” said Noertker.
The company reports the first flight as being 33 minutes in duration and climbed to 3,500 feet at full power, combining power from the combustion engine and electric engine.
Ampaire also said in a statement “The Eco Caravan reduces fuel consumption and emissions by up to 70 percent. Emissions are near zero when using sustainable aviation fuel. Cost of operation is reduced by 25 to 40 percent depending on airline route structure. Cost per available seat mile is near that of driving.
“The Eco Caravan’s propulsion technology is scalable to larger regional aircraft and ultimately to single-aisle airliners. Ampaire plans to rapidly roll out more powerful propulsion systems for larger aircraft, following a building blocks approach that will dramatically improve the sustainability of airline operations.”
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