Though flying via airplane is fast and fun, it’s one of the least environmentally-friendly methods of travel. That may soon change, however, as Eviation Aircraft (a member of NASA’s on-demand mobility program) recently unveiled the first prototype of an all-electric aircraft with a range of up to 600 miles (965 km). Presented at the 52nd International Paris Air Show, the prototype could be ready to move into certification and commercialization as soon as next year.
“At a time when we are more connected than ever, our mobility options must adapt to reflect this new, efficient future,” said
Omer Bar-Yohay, CEO of Eviation Aircraft, in a statement. “Whether it is zero emissions, low-cost trip from Silicon Valley to San Diego, or Seoul to Beijing, our all-electric aircraft represents a chance for people to move with the speed and impact our global economy now demands.”
The electric aircraft could potentially fly six to nine passengers, in addition to two crew members on long distances. With the intention to commercialize the plane by 2018, Eviation by far has the most aggressive timeline of any company intent on producing an electric plane.
Due to the energy density of batteries, electric air transport has been limited. However, the company says it has developed a new aluminum-air battery that will make it possible for consumers to fly without harming the environment.
“Based on an aerial application of Phinergy Ltd’s Aluminum air battery, coupled with a high power rechargeable battery buffer, and managed by a clever mission specific power analytic algorithm, EViation’s energy system is unique. Providing a true solution to both energy density and utilization, at a cost that beats gas, and with zero emissions,” said Eviation Aircraft.
Rather than compete with traditional aviation companies, Eviation will position itself as an Uber-like on-demand transport service. Mark Moore, Uber Engineering Director of Aviation, commented on the Eviation technology:
“We are witnessing a new age in aviation as advances in energy storage and aircraft design bring electric, on-demand air transit within reach. Our focus at Uber is in galvanizing the ecosystem necessary for urban VTOL electric vehicles to thrive for 20-60 mile trips that can provide massive time savings over ground transportation for long trips in cities. In parallel, we are encouraged to see bold new players like Eviation tackling challenges in different sectors using electric aviation; these players will help catalyze demand for new battery and rapid recharging technologies that are crucial to enable electric flight.”