Electric-plane start-up Eviation Aircraft unveiled the production version of its Alice commuter aircraft, saying the pioneering model is set for an inaugural flight in the second half of this year ahead of service entry in 2024.
Eviation, whose plans have been delayed for about a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, is pitching a traditional fixed-wing design rather than the vertical takeoff, multi-rotor setup favored by similar startups.
The Alice will also be bigger than such eVTOL planes, carrying nine passengers for 650 miles (1,046 km), making it suited to the US commuter market currently served by a variety of light aircraft. The production model incorporates several changes from earlier blueprints, switching to a T- from a V-shaped tail and repositioning two electric propulsion units from the wingtips to the rear.
The design uses “currently available battery cells and is not reliant on future advancements,” co-founder and chief executive Omer Bar-Yohay said in a statement Thursday. Suppliers include Honeywell International, electric motor manufacturer MagniX and the GKN arm of Melrose Industries, which will make the plane’s wings, tail and electrical wiring system.
Eviation, which shifted base to the Seattle area from Israel in December to tap the area’s aerospace expertise, said in 2019 it had a backlog of more than 150 orders from customers including Capa Air, a regional carrier in New York and New England. It declined to say where the order book now stands.