A Seattle-area venture called Eviation has struck a deal with Massachusetts-based Cape Air for the purchase of 75 Eviation Alice all-electric planes.
The letter of intent follows up on a claim that was made back in 2019 by Eviation’s then-CEO, Omer Bar-Yohay, who said Cape Air would be his company’s first customer. At the time, Bar-Yohay said the list price for the Alice commuter aircraft would be $4 million per plane — but Eviation said it’s not releasing financial details about the Cape Air deal.
Bar-Yohay left Eviation in February, citing “a longstanding disagreement” with the company’s main shareholder, Singapore-based Clermont Group. Longtime aerospace executive Gregory Davis took over as interim CEO for the privately held company, which is headquartered in Arlington, Wash.
Eviation has begun ground tests of an Alice prototype, and those tests haven’t always gone perfectly — which is to be expected with a totally new type of aircraft. In February, Eviation said Alice’s first flight test would take place “in the upcoming weeks,” but the company now says it plans to reach that milestone this summer.
Alice will be powered by two 850-hp electric motors made by MagniX, a Clermont Group company that’s based in Everett, Wash., close by Eviation’s HQ. It’s designed to carry up to nine passengers and two crew members on zero-emission flights ranging as far as 440 nautical miles (500 statute miles) on a single charge.
If all goes according to plan, Eviation aims to have the production version of the Alice aircraft flying in 2024, with deliveries to follow certification activities.
As a commuter airline, Cape Air is in the sweet spot when it comes to the market for Alice. Although the company is based in Massachusetts, it serves nearly 40 cities in the U.S. (including cities in eastern Montana) and in the Caribbean.
“Truly sustainable aviation not only reduces the impact of air travel on the environment but also makes business sense,” Jessica Pruss, vice president of sales at Eviation, said in a news release. “We are proud to support Cape Air, a recognized leader in regional air travel, to chart a new path in delivering innovative solutions that benefit airline operators, passengers, communities and society.”
Eviation also envisions Alice being used for cargo shipments and for executive business travel. Last year, DHL Express said it was ordering a dozen Alice eCargo airplanes.
Several other ventures are pursuing approaches to electric aviation. MagniX, for example, plans to retrofit seaplanes operated by Vancouver, B.C.-based Harbour Air and is working with other partners as well. Last year, MagniX won a $74.3 million contract from NASA to demonstrate electric propulsion technologies for aircraft.
Meanwhile, Amazon and Alaska Air are investing in ZeroAvia, a venture that’s developing a hydrogen-electric hybrid airplane and is setting up a research and development facility in Everett. Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund has also provided funding for another electric aviation startup called Beta Technologies.
Eviation is among the finalists in the 2022 GeekWire Awards’ Innovation of the Year category. Head over to the GeekWire Awards website to check out all the finalists, vote for your favorites, and reserve your spot for the May 12 awards ceremony at the Showbox SoDo in Seattle.