Charging forward

Israeli company debuts ‘world’s first’ all-electric plane

The Eviation Alice generates buzz at the Paris Air Show, with the firm saying a US airline has already agreed to buy multiple units

The Eviation Alice is introduced by Eviation CEO Omer Bar-Yohay at the Paris Air Show on June 19, 2019. (screenshot: YouTube)
The Eviation Alice is introduced by Eviation CEO Omer Bar-Yohay at the Paris Air Show on June 19, 2019. (screenshot: YouTube)

An odd-looking Israeli prototype aircraft has sparked curiosity at the Paris Air Show this week. But it is more than the plane’s modernist exterior that has drawn audiences’ attention: It is the fact that the Eviation Alice is entirely electrical.

The Alice is a small prop plane operating entirely on battery power. According to the company, it is the world’s first all-electric commuter aircraft.

In fact, according to the company, the battery takes up 65 percent of the plane’s weight. It carries nine passengers and two crewmen. Its range is currently limited to around 1,000 kilometers (600 miles), but for short distances, the company hopes it can cut down operating costs to somewhere around one-fifth of current rates.

“This plane was built first and foremost for the passenger’s flight experience,” Eviation CEO Omer Bar-Yohay told Channel 12 news. “We planned and designed the plane around that.”

Bar-Yohay said the plane’s sleek, out-of-the-ordinary look, which he dubbed “whale-shaped,” is largely the result of “the need to be very aerodynamically efficient.”

He said the aircraft was a part of the “third revolution” in aviation following prop planes and jet aircraft. Developers hope, with time, to increase such planes’ size and range.

The Alice still needs several more years of test flights to received certification by the Federal Aviation Authority. But Bar-Yohay predicted that once it does, demand will balloon.

“We’ll have a supply issue, not a demand issue,” he told Bloomberg.

Eviation said such interest was already apparent, with American regional airline Cape Air expressing a desire to buy the Alice in double digits.

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