Buzz grow­ing for new, all-elec­tric air­plane

Or­ders top 150 for Evi­a­tion’s Alice model, which has 1,050 km range

The Peterborough Examiner - - BUSINESS - CHRISTO­PHER JASPER

Elec­tric-plane startup Evi­a­tion Air­craft Ltd. says it has signed up two more cus­tomers for its pioneer­ing com­muter air­craft, tak­ing the or­der back­log to more than 150 planes.

Both buy­ers are Amer­i­can and are rec­og­nized names in the avi­a­tion in­dus­try, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Omer Bar-Yo­hay said Thurs­day in an in­ter­view, de­clin­ing to name them be­fore for­mal an­nounce­ments early next year.

Evi­a­tion’s plane, the Alice, is in the van­guard of a push into al­l­elec­tric mod­els, with the com­pany bet­ting its nine-pas­sen­ger ca­pac­ity and 650-mile (1,046kilo­me­tre) range will at­tract en­vi­ron­men­tally con­scious buy­ers in a com­muter mar­ket served by a va­ri­ety of light air­craft.

Run­ning costs will be about $200 (U.S.) per flight hour ver­sus $1,000 for a tur­bo­prop, though the model will be slower than some con­ven­tional craft.

Evi­a­tion now ex­pects its first flight next year rather than be­fore Christ­mas as ini­tially tar­geted, with U.S. Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion cer­ti­fi­ca­tion slip­ping to­ward 2022, ac­cord­ing to Bar-Yo­hay, who spoke in Tel Aviv, near where the com­pany is based.

Work is al­ready tak­ing place on in­stalling charg­ing in­fra­struc­ture for ini­tial customer Cape Air, a re­gional air­line with op­er­a­tions in New York and New Eng­land that an­nounced an or­der at the Paris Air Show in June, as well as on the U.S. West Coast for one of the new buy­ers, Bar-Yo­hay said.

Talks are un­der­way with a fourth pos­si­ble client in Aus­tralia, while the CEO has pre­vi­ously said that prospec­tive cus­tomers in­clude ma­jor U.S. car­ri­ers like United Air­lines Hold­ings

Inc. and JetBlue Air­ways Corp., which are in­ter­ested in planes to feed their hubs.

The U.K. also rep­re­sents a nat­u­ral mar­ket, given its rel­a­tively small size and plethora of re­gional air­ports, Bar-Yo­hay said. The Alice would be well suited to Vir­gin At­lantic Air­ways Ltd.’s Con­nect arm — pre­vi­ously Flybe — which has an av­er­age flight time of 55 min­utes. The ex­ec­u­tive was ap­pear­ing with Vir­gin founder Richard Bran­son and CEO Shai Weiss at a tech­nol­ogy con­fer­ence.

Evi­a­tion has $200 mil­lion of fund­ing from back­ers in­clud­ing Sin­ga­pore’s Cler­mont Group, which bought at 70 per cent stake this year, and needs a fur­ther $500 mil­lion to en­ter se­rial pro­duc­tion.

An ini­tial pub­lic of­fer­ing would be the pre­ferred op­tion, Bar-Yo­hay said.

DREAM­STIME FILE PHOTO

Evi­a­tion ex­pects its first flight next year rather than be­fore Christ­mas as ini­tially tar­geted.

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