Australian regional airline Northern Territory Air services (NTAS) orders 20 electric planes. Manufacturer Eviation will deliver the planes. Five years ago, the idea of electric commercial planes was a dream. Commercial jets use large amounts of energy to keep the planes at cruising altitude.
In recent innovations, electric vehicle manufacturing is of large focus. Innovations have advanced and succeeded in many cases. Eviation is closed than ever to introducing this new technology in the airline industry. It is beginning with the current orders and is predicted to continue.
As stated by GeekWire, very few details were released about the deal between NTAS and Eviation. However, we know that Eviation will be supplying the Australian airline with 20 planes, which will be used in short, sub-300-mile journeys within Australia. But Eviation has been making deals with big names outside of Australia, including with DHL, Cape Air, Global Air, and Evia Air in Germany. Eviation gained notoriety earlier this year for a couple of reasons. Foremost, the Eviation Alise passenger plane is far larger than other electric plane competitors, which are often directed towards enthusiasts and those who are learning to fly. Second, the company gained credibility as the Eviation Alise took to the skies on its maiden voyage earlier this year, an achievement many other startups have yet to achieve.
The website of the electric plane manufacturer shows some impressive specifications for the Alise. The plane has a max payload of 2,500 pounds/nine passengers and their luggage, can travel 250 nautical miles (287 miles), and can achieve a max speed of 260 knots (300mph). And while these specs are far from impressive compared to the ocean-crossing jets we have become familiar with at our local airports, the Eviation Alise could be just as capable as other small jets on shorter journeys.
The path to complete electrification of aviation is not yet clear. Some companies believe that hybridized engine technology is the next step, and others think hydrogen may best suit air travel. But one thing is clear, the beginning of that journey is already beginning. Even electric cars remain in the low single digits for worldwide market share and electric flight is undoubtedly a greater hurdle. The enemy of flight is the weight after all and batteries are rather heavy. The skepticism though, while justified, is misplaced. The financial driver for electrification is huge, with the potential to reduce operating costs by 60 to 80%.