Ampaire began ground testing the propulsion system on its first hybrid-electric Cessna Grand Caravan flight test aircraft, which the company has branded the Eco Caravan. This aircraft represents a milestone for hybrid electric aviation, building on the technology and heritage of Ampaire’s Electric EEL aircraft.
In light of record fuel prices and growing concern over the environmental impact of aviation, Ampaire’s Eco Caravan is uniquely positioned to enable current Caravan operators to continue to thrive while achieving dramatic operating cost and emissions savings.
The upgraded Eco Caravan offers game-changing fuel savings over the original aircraft of up to 70 per cent on short-hop routes and over 50 per cent on long-haul flights, while still carrying 9 passengers or cargo. The aircraft can achieve an emissions reduction of up to 90 per cent if using sustainable aviation fuel. The Eco Caravan is capable of operating from airports without electric charging infrastructure.
Ampaire has decided to move forward as an independent company on its mission to reduce aviation emissions. Ampaire will proceed with development of the Eco Caravan and the application for a supplemental type certificate (STC) for its hybrid propulsion system, and will continue to work closely with operators globally to maximize benefits for their fleets.
The Eco Caravan is the first hybrid electric aircraft to enter the FAA certification process. The STC process can take much less time than certifying an entirely new aircraft, allowing a certification target of 2024. By upgrading current aircraft to hybrid-electric power, it also enables the Eco Caravan to improve the emissions and affordability of existing fleets, a key need for Ampaire customers.
Tremendously exciting milestone
“Powering up a new propulsion system, one that is fully integrated into a flyable aircraft, is a tremendously exciting milestone for Ampaire,” said CEO and co-founder Kevin Noertker. “We expect the Eco Caravan to be the first in a series of hybrid electric upgrades for a number of aircraft models that will transform the industry by lowering emissions and costs.”
Noertker described the first ground power runs at Los Angeles’s Hawthorne Airport as an initial validation of the system’s operation. First flight of the Eco Caravan is expected in the second half of 2022.