Ampaire has received a firm order for 25 Eco Caravans from sustainable regional aircraft financier Monte Aircraft Leasing, the companies said this week. The agreement includes an option for another 25 Eco Caravans and codifies the parties’ “preferred partner” relationship.
A hybrid-electric version of the Cessna Grand Caravan, the Eco Caravan can reduce fuel needs and emissions by as much as 70 percent while preserving payload capability and extended range, according to Ampaire, which also claims the aircraft can achieve carbon-neutral operation when flown on sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The aircraft can recharge its batteries in flight, meaning it can use any airport into which Caravans fly today, regardless of ground charging capability. Ampaire also cites a projected 25 to 40 percent operating cost improvement over the standard Grand Caravan, depending on the mission.
“The Eco Caravan is our starting point for a revolution in air travel,” said Ampaire CEO Kevin Noertker. “It brings cost per available seat mile down to the range of driving, benefiting operators and their passengers. It dramatically shrinks the aircraft’s carbon footprint. The propulsion technology is scalable, and we intend to quickly move toward larger regional aircraft and even the single-aisle jet market over time.”
Now undergoing ground power tests, the nine-passenger Eco Caravan will fly later this year if all goes according to plan. Ampaire expects the upgraded Caravan—the first hybrid-electric aircraft to enter the certification process with the FAA—to win supplemental type certification in 2024.
The founders of Los Angeles-based Ampaire formed the company in 2016 with a mission to take what they consider the quickest, most capital-efficient approach to making commercial electric air travel possible with available technology. The company claims a series of industry firsts since the 2019 maiden flight of its Electric EEL technology testbed aircraft, including the setting of a record for a hybrid electric aircraft with a 1,135-mile flight from Los Angeles to Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
Monte engages in the financing and lease of low- and zero-emission advanced aerial mobility vehicles to regional aircraft operators. The company has set a goal of becoming the world's first carbon-neutral aircraft leasing company by 2027.
“Monte is looking to build a fleet of low-emission and zero-emission aircraft to lease or finance for regional aircraft operators worldwide,” said Monte investment director Timothy Eyre. “Ampaire has emerged as the leading hybrid-electric technology provider. Its Eco Caravan will be very attractive for a segment of our operators, thanks to its wide performance envelope and ability to operate without ground charging infrastructure where necessary.”