July has been an active month in the world of electric flight development. From DANX Carousel Group investing in ELECTRON aerospace to launch a zero-emission electric freighter, to VoltAero and ZeroAvia both successfully completing test flights of their electric-hybrid aircraft types, and Ampaire acquiring Talyn Air to expand its own expertise in developing eVTOL aircraft.
The most exciting news first, because it is directly cargo-related, is the fact that Danish DANX Carousel has invested in Dutch ELECTRON aerospace with the view to launching a battery-run
electric aircraft by 2027, that could transport passengers by day and cargo by night. The investment decision is part of the group's mission to cut carbon emissions by 40% before 2035.
The Electron 5 will enable zero emission, point-to-point air freight deliveries across Europe. Able to carry 500 kg of cargo over a 500 km distance on a single battery charge, at speeds of up to 300 km/hour, it can also operate on relatively short runways, thus has potential access to five times more European Union (EU) airports than the larger freight aircraft used today.
Lars Ryssel, Group Chief Solutions Officer (CSO), DANX Carousel, stated: “Sustainability is, of course, the driving force behind our investment in ELECTRON, but the inclusion of the Electron 5 aircraft in our operations will also bring about impressive operational improvements. The ability to launch and land closer to our pick-up and delivery points will cut down on journey lengths, allowing us to offer customers later cut-off times and better serve hard-to-reach areas. Moving away from the traditional hub-and-spoke distribution of air cargo to a point-to-point model means we can avoid congestion at busy airports. Based on our analysis, we believe that small planes are set to outperform conventional aircraft fueled by sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), and hybrid aircraft in cost per kilogram, transit time, and carbon emissions.”
Marc-Henry de Jong, Chief Commercial Operator/Chief Operations Officer + Co-Founder of ELECTRON aerospace, said: “Beyond the financial investment, we're thrilled to crown DANX Carousel our Founding Logistics Partner. The expertise of DANX Carousel's exceptional team is instrumental in ensuring the Electron 5 is well equipped to transport a wide range of cargo, including loose goods like e-commerce parcels and odd-size goods resting on EU palettes.”
Val Karren, Sustainability Director, DANX Carousel, declared: “The future of short-haul air cargo is battery electric – and working with ELECTRON brings us closer to realizing that vision. The plane will emit zero emissions while in the air, but the shorter ground deliveries will also cut down on truck emissions as we avoid transporting cargo on the ground to and from regional hubs. DANX Carousel is front-line on this delivery model, and I believe this investment is future-proof as smaller planes will always have a unique offering due to their flexibility over larger freighters.”
VoltAero’s Cassio 330’s first U.S. touchdown
French company, VoltAero’s first prototype electric-hybrid aircraft has been gracing various airshows, recently. It was very popular at the Paris Airshow at the end of JUN23, and ‘touched down’ for the first time in the U.S., at the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh fly-in at Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The Cassio 330 was presented by CEO and Chief Technology Officer Jean Botti, alongside the VoltAero team. Though it is a the first in a series of all-new 5-12-seat aircraft, its use can be tailored to operate as air taxi/charters, commercial flights, or in utility-categories such as cargo, postal delivery, or Medevac. The aircraft is due to perform its maiden flight in late 2023, powered by a four-cylinder Kawasaki Motors thermal engine – Kawasaki is also a strong investor in VoltAero. The initial flight will serve to validate the overall airframe configuration and aerodynamics. A second version Cassio 330 maiden flight will take place in Q2/24, to qualify for the airworthiness certification program. The aircraft will be equipped with VoltAero’s full-up hybrid propulsion unit – composed of the four-cylinder Kawasaki Motors thermal engine (with a peak power rating of 165 kW) and a Safran ENGINeUSTM smart electric motor (with a peak power rating of 180 kW). Alongside the 4-5-seater Cassio 330, the Cassio family will eventually include a six-seat Cassio 480 with a combined electric-hybrid propulsion power of 480 kilowatts, and a Cassio 600 (seats 10/12-seat, and has an electric-hybrid propulsion power of 600 kilowatts.)
VoltAero will assemble the Cassio aircraft in a purpose-built facility at the Rochefort Charente-Maritime Airport in France’s Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, and is aiming at 150 aircraft per year.
ZeroAvia’s Dornier 228 promises greener flights
Meanwhile, over in the UK, at Cotswold Airport, ZeroAvia spent the past six months thoroughly and sequentially carrying out its Dornier 228 Flight Test Campaign, resulting in ten successful flight tests of its retrofitted aircraft. The Dornier 228 which was fitted with a prototype ZA600 hydrogen-electric engine, demonstrated consistently high performance in zero-emission factors such as fuel cell power generation and its electric propulsion system, matching the power of the conventional, fossil fuel engine on its opposite wing. Pilots were able to fly with thrust generated only from the experimental clean propulsion system in certain tests. The next step, now, is to prepare for its first cross-country test-flights. It has already flown at 5,000 feet, and in temperatures from slightly above freezing to almost 30°C. Val Miftakhov, Founder & CEO, ZeroAvia, said: “Zero-emission flight technologies are moving from promise to delivery and our amazing team is leading the way with this testing program. We do not have to push the unappealing choices on passengers of paying more or flying less to deliver climate conscious air travel. We instead can adopt this technology quickly to reduce climate impact and air pollution.”
Los Angeles-based hybrid electric aircraft systems developer (including the world’s largest hybrid electric plane – the Eco Caravan aircraft), Ampaire Inc., in its mission to become “the world's most-trusted developer of practical, compelling electric aircraft”, announced this month, that it had acquired all of the assets of its 2019-founded, Los Angeles neighbor and expert in advanced eVTOL aircraft technologies, Talyn Air Inc., to expand its product portfolio. Kevin Noertker, CEO of Ampaire, explained: “Adding Talyn to Ampaire’s already strong technical foundation in hybrid electric propulsion will be immediately accretive to revenue growth and allow the company to accelerate our reach into the valuable drone and eVTOL sectors for both commercial and defense applications. Growth through acquisitions of companies and assets is a key part of our long-term strategy to become the industry leader in electrified aviation. Through this expanded portfolio of technology and programs, we will be well-positioned to offer customers the most experienced hybrid electric propulsion capabilities in the industry across drones, fixed wing, and eVTOL.”
Jamie Gull, CEO of Talyn, said: “We founded Talyn with a vision for advancing aviation, transforming the way we fly, and evolving toward a greener future. We are excited that our technology and vision, combined with Ampaire’s industry-leading solutions, will provide game-changing capabilities to the aviation industry.”
Much movement across the world, therefore, in the electric flight segment.
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