Arlington, Wash.-based Eviation Aircraft added to its multibillion-dollar order book with a letter of intent from Mexico-based Aerus to purchase 30 of its all-electric Alice airplanes. Aerus is scheduled to start regional service later this year, with Monterrey as its regional hub, but it will have to wait several years for Eviation’s nine-passenger commuter planes to be delivered.
A few years from now, we just might look back at 2022 as Year One for a new age in aerospace: It was the year when NASA’s next-generation space telescope delivered the goods, when NASA’s moon rocket aced its first flight test, and when an all-electric passenger plane built from the ground up took to the skies.
I’ve been rounding up the top stories in space on an annual basis for 25 years now (starting with the Mars Pathfinder mission in 1997), and 2022 ranks among the biggest years when it comes to opening up new frontiers on the final frontier. The best thing about these frontier-opening stories — especially the James Webb Space Telescope and the Artemis moon program — is that the best is yet to come.
Check out my top-five list for the big stories of the past year, plus five aerospace trends to watch in the year ahead.
Air New Zealand has signed a letter of intent to order up to 23 all-electric Alice aircraft from Arlington, Wash.-based Eviation as part of its Mission NextGen Aircraft program to accelerate the switch to zero-emission flights. The deal makes Air New Zealand the first national flag carrier to put in a reservation for the nine-seater Alice.
In a statement, Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran said Eviation’s Alice is a “natural fit” for the airline’s plan to decarbonize its domestic flights, starting in 2026. An Alice prototype went through its first flight test in September, and Eviation plans to put the plane into service by 2027. Other electric aircraft manufacturers teaming up with Air New Zealand include Beta, Cranfield Aerospace and VoltAero.
It’s only fitting that 20 of Eviation’s all-electric Alice commuter airplanes are destined to be based in Alice Springs.
That’s the upshot of the Arlington, Wash.-based company’s deal with Northern Territory Air Services, a scheduled airline and charter aircraft operator that’s headquartered in the town known as the capital of the Australian Outback.
“Australia is recognized around the world for its breathtaking scenery, and adopting carbon-free technologies is fundamental to preserving the environment for future generations,” Ian Scheyer, the CEO of NTAS, said today in a news release announcing a letter of intent to acquire the planes. “Eviation’s all-electric Alice aircraft provides us with the opportunity to chart a sustainable path forward in connecting communities across the country.”
Alice is designed to take on flights ranging from 150 to 250 miles — which fits the parameters for many of NTAS’ flights. Scheyer said electric aviation will make it possible for his company to provide “cost-effective and convenient passenger and cargo flights across the Outback.”
Arlington, Wash.-based Eviation Aircraft says Evia Aero, a nascent European regional airline that’s based in Germany, has signed a letter of intent to purchase 25 of Eviation’s all-electric commuter Alice aircraft.
The airline hasn’t yet gone into service, but it eventually intends to use the nine-passenger Alice planes as its primary aircraft for point-to-point regional travel within Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Austria and the Netherlands.
“Together with Eviation, a pioneer of electric flight, we will introduce a fleet of zero-emission aircraft that will transform the way we experience regional travel in Europe,” Florian Kruse, founder and CEO of Evia Aero, said today in a news release. “We are deeply committed to holistically transforming the aviation industry by implementing a complete cycle of local energy generation, storage, and flight operations.”
Gregory Davis, Eviation’s president and CEO, hailed Evia Aero’s commitment to electric air travel. “The creation of an all-electric European commuter fleet of Alice aircraft will advance an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable future of flight,” Davis said.
MOSES LAKE, Wash. — After years of on-the-ground development, Eviation’s all-electric Alice airplane quietly took to the air here this morning for its first test flight.
Test pilot Steve Crane guided the nine-passenger aircraft, powered by two 640-kilowatt electric motors, through its takeoff from Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake, a facility in Eastern Washington’s high desert that’s often used for testing innovations in aviation.
When the motors revved up, they sounded like electric grass trimmers. And when the plane flew overhead, the noise was more like a hum than a roar.
Alice flew for lasted eight minutes and reached a maximum altitude of 3,500 feet before landing safely back at the airport.
So how was the ride? “It was wonderful,” Crane said. “It handled just like we thought it would. Very responsive, very quick to the throttle, and it came on in for a wonderful landing. I couldn’t be happier.”
The nine-passenger aircraft will open up new routes for passenger travel in GlobalX’s key markets in Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean, Eviation said today in a news release.
“The Alice aircraft will allow us to offer sustainable regional flights to and from major markets, and is the first step in our initiative to be a zero-carbon emissions airline by 2050,” said Ed Wegel, GlobalX’s chair and CEO.
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.
Arlington, Wash.-based Eviation says Gregory Davis is assuming the role of interim CEO as part of a planned succession process that reflects the company’s transition to the production phase of its all-electric Alice aircraft.
Davis, who has been serving as Eviation’s president, will take the CEO baton from co-founder Omer Bar-Yohay. Just last month, Roei Ganzarski left the company with Dominique Spragg taking his place as chairman.
Eviation is moving forward toward certification and production readiness for three variants of the Alice airplane, optimized for cargo shipment, commuter passenger service and executive business travel. The aircraft already has undergone months of on-the-ground testing in Arlington.
“Eviation expects to make the first flight of Alice in the upcoming weeks, having completed many preliminary milestones including initial taxi and flight test preparations,” Spragg said today in a news release. “As we complete the technical demonstration phase, Eviation is now preparing for production to make affordable regional air travel a reality in the coming years.”
Roei Ganzarski, the former Boeing manager who went on to give a boost to all-electric aviation, is leaving his executive posts at Everett, Wash.-based MagniX and at Eviation Aircraft, an electric-airplane manufacturer with offices in Arlington, Wash.
Ganzarski was the CEO of MagniX, which focuses on building electric propulsion systems for aircraft. He was the executive chairman of Eviation, which is getting ready for test flights of its all-electric Alice airplane. Both ventures are owned by the Singapore-based Clermont Group, and Eviation’s Alice aircraft is designed to use MagniX’s propulsion system.
Ganzarski announced his double departure “with a heavy heart” last week, in a LinkedIn post that laid out a list of the companies’ recent achievements — including development deals with B.C.-based Harbour Air and other companies as well as a $74.3 million NASA contract to develop an electric demonstrator aircraft.
“I have no doubt that the future of aviation is electric,” he wrote. “It has to be for the sake of our children and grandchildren. It is no longer a question of if, but only when and who. I leave MagniX and Eviation positioned to continue their leadership in this field.”