‘New era of aviation’: First all-electric commuter airplane takes flight

MOSES LAKE, Wash. — History was made last week when the world’s first all-electric commuter airplane took its first test flight over Washington state.

According to The Associated Press, if the Federal Aviation Administration certifies the small airplane to carry passengers, it could become the first all-electric commercial airplane.

“The feeling here is electric. We’re absolutely excited about what we’ve just done by flying Alice successfully for the first time,” Gregory Davis, president and CEO of Eviation, told KIRO-TV.

Davis said the plane is built to carry nine passengers and one or two pilots, but it will be sometime before commercial flights take to the skies.

“In terms of time to market, the main thing that’s going to get us is the development of the battery technology. We first see a battery technology coming online to power airplanes and the mission profiles we want by 2027,” Davis told KIRO.

The plane, designed by engineers in Washington state and Israel, is powered by 21,500 small Tesla-style battery cells.

Davis said it will take several years to get the aircraft certified by the FAA. He said 50% of all domestic general aviation flights travel 500 nautical miles or less; Alice has a range of 440 nautical miles.

“Typically speaking, you’re going to fly for one to two hours in a plane like this rates, maybe a little less even, so that’s, you know, 150 to 250 miles, and that’s where we’re looking at bringing our product department,” Davis said.

With the success of the first test flight, Davis said the company will focus on reviewing the data to see how well it matched their models.

The aircraft’s name “Alice” was inspired by Lewis Carroll’s magical tales of Alice’s adventures in Wonderland, according to The Seattle Times.

“It’s really ushering in a new era of aviation,” Davis told the Times. “This is the first radical change in aerospace propulsion technology since we went from the Super Constellation to the 707, from the piston engine to the jet engine, and now to the electric motor.”

Eviation hopes to prove that electric planes are viable as commuter aircraft flying that would likely fly at an altitude of about 15,000 feet.

It’s technically not the first all-electric flight in North America. A DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver seaplane was retrofitted with MagniX motors, the same used on Alice, in 2019, according to the Times. Like Alice, it is also not certified to carry passengers yet.