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Why the Age of Electric Flight is Finally Upon Us

Friday June 21, 2019. 04:41 PM , from Slashdot
Aerospace firms are joining forces to tackle their industry's growing contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, with electric engines seen as one solution. But will this be enough to offset the growing demand for air travel? From a report: This week's Paris Airshow saw the launch of the world's first commercial all-electric passenger aircraft -- albeit in prototype form. Israeli firm Eviation says the craft -- called Alice -- will carry nine passengers for up to 650 miles (1,040km) at 10,000ft (3,000m) at 276mph (440km/h). It is expected to enter service in 2022. Alice is an unconventional-looking craft: powered by three rear-facing pusher-propellers, one in the tail and two counter-rotating props at the wingtips to counter the effects of drag. It also has a flat lower fuselage to aid lift.

Eviation has already received its first orders. US regional airline Cape Air, which operates a fleet of 90 aircraft, has agreed to buy a 'double-digit' number of the aircraft. The firm is using Siemens and magniX to provide the electric motors, and magniX chief executive Roei Ganzarski says that with two billion air tickets sold each year for flights of under 500 miles, the business potential for small electric passenger aircraft is clear. Crucially, electricity is much cheaper than conventional fuel. A small aircraft, like a turbo-prop Cessna Caravan, will use $400 on conventional fuel for a 100-mile flight, says Mr Ganzarski. But with electricity 'it'll be between $8-$12, which means much lower costs per flight-hour'.

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