Hybrid-electric aircraft developer Ampaire is stepping up efforts to stimulate the development of electrification capability at airports through a new partnership with sustainable infrastructure specialist Black & Veatch. In a June 13 announcement, the U.S. companies said they are looking to identify airports in the Americas, Europe, and Asia that are willing to work with them to put in place infrastructure for electric aircraft.
The memorandum of understanding establishes a collaboration that will focus on the supply chains for recharging aircraft powered by clean energy and sustainable aviation fuels (SAF). The partners intend to work with as-yet-unspecified airports on exploiting opportunities involving solar power and new energy storage technology.
Ampaire is developing plans to convert several aircraft types to hybrid-electric propulsion, building on recently completed flight tests with its Electric EEL technology demonstrator, which is a conversion of a Cessna 337. It says that the Grand Caravan conversion could be approved under an FAA supplemental type certificate by 2024.
The company has conducted trial operations with airlines in Hawaii and the UK. These attempted to evaluate infrastructure requirements to support scheduled commercial operations.
“Decarbonization of aviation is challenging and requires technology and collaboration,” said Paul Stitch, Black & Veatch’s associate vice president of global transportation initiatives. “Tackling SAF and electrification strategies offers a shining example of what’s possible in doing things cleaner and greener, and we’re excited about working with Ampaire to reshape tomorrow’s air mobility through infrastructure and innovation.”
In April, Ampaire said it is preparing to launch a Series B funding round after its acquisition by Surf Air Mobility was called off. For now, its work is being funded by private investors and public grants such as the U.S. Department of Energy’s ARPA-e program and the UK’s Future Flight Challenge.
“Ampaire is committed to putting zero-emissions aircraft into widespread service by mid-decade,” said Susan Ying, senior vice president of global partnerships for Ampaire. “Aircraft companies must be involved in defining airport fueling and charging infrastructure.”