The integrator will be the first to commercially operate zero-emission cargo aircraft, aiming to set up an all-electric express network to lower Deutsche Post-DHL’s CO2 footprint. Newcomer Eviation, a visionary aviation firm founded in Israel and now based in the Seattle area, USA, is the freighter provider. The announcement follows United Airlines’ recent decision to buy 100 19-seat electric passenger planes from U.S. producer, Heart Aerospace.
Eviation CEO, Omer Bar-Yohay sees his company as a pioneer of a new era in air transport. “We are in the third age of aviation which began with propeller driven aircraft, followed by the jet
epoch that is now being replaced by the electric era.” And that is where he believes his company will be an important player, referring to his product “Alice”, which is set to transform the
industry. “(Alice is) the world’s leading fully electric aircraft, which enables airlines – both cargo and passenger – to operate a zero-emission fleet,” reads a joint DHL-Eviation
Convincing features, says DHL
Alice’s maiden flight is scheduled for takeoff later this year, with the first delivery to DHL taking place in 2024. Here are the main operational and technical parameters as described by producer Eviation: “Alice can be flown by a single pilot, and will be able to carry 1,200 kilograms (2,600 lbs) per flight. It will require 30 minutes or less to charge per flight hour, and have a maximum range of up to 815 kilometers (440 nautical miles). Alice will operate in all environments currently serviced by piston and turbine aircraft. Alice’s advanced electric motors have fewer moving parts to increase reliability and reduce maintenance costs. Its operating software constantly monitors flight performance to ensure optimal efficiency.”
Ideal aircraft for feeder services
DHL and Eviation remain tight lipped about the purchase price. At the same time, through their commitment to electric powered freighters, both companies are pioneering a trend that the industry will not be able to dodge.
In addition, with today’s announcement they have landed a media coup which will catapult both players into the headlines and further enhance their reputation as determined advocates for environmentally friendly aviation. This is indirectly confirmed by John Pearson, CEO of DHL Express: “Our investments always follow the objective of improving our carbon footprint. On our way to clean logistics operations, the electrification of every transport mode plays a crucial role and will significantly contribute to our overall sustainability goal of zero emissions.”
The aircraft is ideal for feeder routes and requires less investment in station infrastructure, states DHL. Since Alice’s noise emissions are extremely low, the question arises if the aircraft will be authorized for night operations at airports that have imposed a curfew between late evening and early morning, such as FRA, MUC, ZRH, LUX, WAW, and others? DHL’s response to this is diplomatic: “With noise significantly reduced, Alice will be the quietest aircraft operating and therefore benefit the communities close to the airports it connects. For the night operating permissions, the airport and state authorities are responsible.”
“Check the transport mode”
In the joint press release, the Eviation management confirms that their all-electric aircraft “Alice” is on track for its first flight later this year. Looking ahead to 2024 and the delivery of the first freighters to DHL, Eviation Executive Chairman Roei Ganzarski recommends e-traders to check if an on-demand package ordered by them “was delivered with a zero-emission aircraft like DHL will be doing,”
The executive went on to say: “With on-demand shopping and deliveries on a constant rise, ‘Alice is enabling’ DHL to establish a clean, quiet, and low-cost operation that will open up greater
opportunities for more communities.”
Complementing the contents of the joint press release from Eviation and DHL Express, CFG posted some additional questions to Eviation CEO, Omer Bar-Yohay:
Q: What is the approximate lifespan of the batteries propelling the future Alice freighter aircraft?
A: The batteries in the Alice eCargo aircraft are expected to last 3,000 flight hours.
Q: When their end of life is reached, what happens to the batteries? Are they recyclable?
A: The batteries will be recycled and used for other ground applications that do not require the same power level as aviation.
Q: What technical and personnel support, including spare parts supply, does Eviation offer to the users of the freighters, in this case DHL?
A: We are not disclosing details of our agreements with customers. With that said, DHL and others will be positioned to utilize the Alice eCargo to its full capability.
Q: Do commercial pilots with a CPL license need an additional or different permit to fly Alice? What does ICAO say?
A: Pilots are expected to need a type rating to fly the Alice.
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