Electric plane maker Eviation plans to seek approval to fly its electric plane Alice – which is set to debut at the Paris Air Show in June this year – in Australian skies, the Israeli-based company has said.
It is first seeking certification for flight in the US through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), with plans to build and conduct its first flight in the US later this year at its new production facility in Prescott, Arizona.
Eviation also intends to begin pre-selling the 9-seater, all-electric aircraft – which will be capable of 1000km flights on one charge thanks to a 900kWh battery by South Korean Kokam – as soon as 2020.
The details that Eviation will seek approval for flight from the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) was confirmed via email by a spokesperson for Eviation this week.
While Eviation’s spokesperson referred to a “process of gaining certification in Australia”, it is understood from a CASA spokesperson that certification is more commonly gained elsewhere (in this case the US), with approval for flight in Australia based on the overseas certification.
The news follows reports of Eviation’s new production facility in Arizona, which will be the site of commercial manufacturing of Alice fleets, which the company has also confirmed.
As reported by The Driven last year, Alice could reshape the way we travel, bringing a low cost, high-speed, environmentally-friendly option to airports that allows new inter-regional routes to be opened up.
The opportunity in Australia, with much larger than average distances between regional centres, is massive.
In the US, Eviation is applying not only for approval for commuter travel through the FAA, but also on-demand travel, opening up the possibility of an “Uber-like” form of air travel.
“The on-demand certification would still be for regional travel, but expands potential customers to include on-demand flight provider,” Eviation’s spokesperson said.
The approvals will form the basis for Eviation’s mission to create a new class of travel that will “disrupt the current regional aviation paradigm”.
“Our vision is to provide commuters and travelers a sustainable, quiet ride at a price point that makes this transportation option accessible to a wide array of people. Alice represents a new class – air mobility – that is changing how people travel and will make a 800-mile trip possible for roughly the price of a bus ride,” says Eviation.
With market outlooks suggesting that demand for regional flight could require as many as 1000-3000 new aircrafts every year, Eviation is poising itself to bring Alice to regional areas.
While an ETA for Australia is not yet forthcoming – certification of new aircraft from design, development and flight testing is a lengthy process – Eviation will first turn its focus to the lucrative US market, while also keeping an eye on Europe.
There is to date one electric plane approved to fly in Australia, the Slovenian 2-seater Pipistrel Alpha Electric civil electric airplane which took its first flight in Aussie skies on January 2, 2018.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.