The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

Eviation Aircraft is aiming to complete type certification and service entry for its Alice fixed-wing electrically powered aircraft before the end of 2022. It displayed a first full-scale prototype of the aircraft at the Paris Air Show in 2019 before shipping it to Prescott, Arizona, where it said it intends to begin flight testing before the end of 2019. A second prototype was due to arrive at this U.S. base during the fourth quarter of 2019, having been assembled in Vannes, France, at facilities owned by its composite fuselage supplier Carboman Group. A third production-conforming aircraft is due to be delivered to the Prescott base in mid-2020. Eviation intends to certify Alice under the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration's Part 23 rules.

However, according to a November 22, 2019, report in the Puget Sound Business Journal, the Alice prototype only arrived from France in crates at Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake, Washington, in early November. The aircraft needs to be assembled and is not due to make its first flight until 2020. In late November, Eviation confirmed that the first Alice flight test has been pushed back to 2020 and that Moses Lake will be the base for these flights. It provided no explanation for the delay or change of operational base.

Alice is intended to transform the operating economics of the regional air transportation sector by delivering a significant reduction in energy costs with an all-electric powerplant. Eviation says that the $4 million aircraft will offer direct operating costs of just $200 per flight hour. U.S. operator Cape Air placed the launch order for Alice in a June 2019 deal for an undisclosed number of aircraft. The company claims to have total "orders" for 150 aircraft with more than one customer, but has not disclosed the names of any other prospective operators.

On January 22, 2020, the program suffered a setback when the first prototype example of the Alice was damaged in a fire that start during battery recharging. As of June 2020, Eviation had still not confirmed when preparations for planned flight testing will resume. 

Key program partners include the following: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (test flight support and development work); Siemens and Magnix (electric motor suppliers); Carboman Group (composites for fuselage); Hartzell (variable pitch propellers); Maghaghi Aeronautica (landing gear); Honeywell (flight control and thermal management systems); Kokam (batteries).

In June, Eviation announced that Honeywell has been selected to install its new MicroVCS thermal management system to cool the Alice's cabin, electronic component, and batteries. Eviation did not respond to questions to FutureFlight as to whether the system had been selected in response to the fire.

Eviation also has longer-term plans for a possible executive version of Alice, which would offer longer range with fewer passengers.

Timeline

Missed Projection

test flight

In June 2019, Eviation said it intended to achieve a first flight before the end of 2019 from a base in Prescott, Arizona. However, media reports in November 2019 indicated that the timing for the first flight has slipped back into 2020 after the aircraft arrived in the U.S. later than planned.

Outlook

Our objective assessment of this program’s probable success.

FutureFlight assesses the probability of success for a new aircraft program by considering the following criteria:

  • Total investment funds available in proportion to the anticipated cost of getting an aircraft certified and in service
  • A company’s in-house capability (in terms of numbers of engineers, technical staff, and customer support teams)
  • The past experience of the company and its senior leadership in developing aircraft
  • The caliber and past experience of key program partners
  • Whether key aircraft systems have been selected and are available for use
  • Whether the preliminary design review has been completed
  • Whether the design for the full-scale prototype has been completed
  • Whether the type certification process has been formally initiated with an appropriate regulator
  • Whether the company has achieved a first flight with a full-scale prototype
  • The number of hours logged in a flight test program
  • Whether type certification has been achieved
  • The number of orders and commitment received for the aircraft
  • Whether the company has adequate facilities to begin series production of the aircraft
Our Methodology

Eviation Aircraft is taking a different path from most of the eVTOL pioneers, with a program built around a plan to transform the regional air transportation sector with a fully electrically-powered fixed-wing short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft. Key issues for it to settle in order to have credibility are that its 900-kW/h Lithium-Ion battery pack in combination with its three rear-facing pusher propellers and composite fuselage will actually deliver the impressive $200 per flight hour direct operating costs. Prospective operators also will have to be satisfied that they will be able to handle the recharging process that will take 30 minutes to generate power for a 60-minute flight and 70 minutes for a full charge. Eviation's plan is that recharging facilities would be installed on trucks that would be driven up to the aircraft at airports, but it has yet to declare how this plan would be implemented.

Eviation was founded by a pair of Israeli entrepreneurs who apparently have a sound technical background in the core electrical power technology. What is less clear is how much in-house engineering expertise the company can count on. Its program development plans appear to depend heavily on the contribution of key suppliers. While its suppliers appear credible, it remains to be seen whether they will deliver sufficient manpower and resources to complete Eviation's ambitious goal of getting Alice into service by the end of 2022. For instance, the flight test and development program will include senior-year engineering students from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. While the university undoubtedly has some exceptional engineering talent, it clearly is not equipped to handle the full development program for a new aircraft design. Eviation has not made clear what in-house engineering support will be available.

The company had raised $200 million in investment by January 2019 and said in June 2019 that it did not require further fund-raising to get the Alice into service. It has one launch customer in the shape of Cape Air, but it's unclear how strong a financial commitment this deal involves.

On August 29, 2019, Singapore-based Clermont Group announced that it had completed its acquisition of Eviation Aircraft. Clermont now owns 70 percent of Eviation. It also owns electric motor manufacturer Magnix, which is one of Eviation's suppliers for the Alice electric aircraft program. As a prelude to this deal, on August 16, a special general meeting of shareholders voted for a reverse share split that resulted in it ceasing to be a public company. On November 5, 2019, Clermont Aerospace chairman Roei Ganzarski was appointed as the new chairman of Eviation. He is also CEO of Magnix. It is unclear what fresh investment Clermont may have made in supporting the development of the Alice aircraft.

In November 2019, Eviation confirmed that the first test flight of the Alice had been pushed back into 2020, without providing any explanation for the delay. The January 2020 fire on the prototype subsequently caused further delays.

Alice Models

Alice Specifications

Optionally-piloted regional Fixed Wing

Performance

  • Passenger Capacity
    9
  • Range
    650 mi
  • Cruise Speed
    276 mph
  • Powerplant Type
    propeller
  • Power Source
    electric
  • Endurance
    n/a
  • Max Altitude
    n/a
  • Takeoff Distance
    n/a
  • Landing Distance
    n/a
  • Empty Weight
    n/a
  • MGTOW
    14,000 lb
  • Payload Weight
    n/a

Dimensions

  • Length
    40 ft
  • Width
    n/a
  • Height
    n/a
  • Wingspan
    53 ft

Alice is an electrically powered short takeoff and landing (STOL) fixed-wing aircraft being developed for the regional air transportation sector by Israel's Eviation Aircraft. It is due to enter service before the end of 2022 after completing type certification under U.S. Federal Aviation Administration's Part 23 rules.

It has a 900-kWh battery pack powering electric motors that drive three variable-pitch propellers---one installed in the tail of the aircraft, and one on each side of the wing. The combined power of the three electric motors is 260 kW. Full charge time for the batteries is projected at 70 minutes, or 30 minutes to provide enough power for a 60-minute flight. 

Key Personnel

Aviv Tzidon is cofounder and chairman of Eviation Aircraft.
Aviv Tzidon

Chairman, Founder

Omer Bar-Yohay is cofounder and CEO of Eviation Aircraft
Omer Bar-Yohay

Founder, Chief Executive Officer (CEO)