DALLAS – Eviation’s all-electric Alice aircraft has completed its first flight at Grant County International Airport (MWH), Moses Lake, WA, landing safely to achieve a milestone moment for sustainable, zero-emissions aviation.

Alice, which made its debut at the 2019 Paris Air Show, can accommodate nine passengers and two pilots. 250 knots is the maximum cruise speed for the type, and it has about 440 nm of range and a 16,500-pound maximum takeoff weight (MTOW).

Eviation performed initial tests at Arlington Municipal Airport (AWO) before the majority of the project was moved to MWH in the spring to prepare for today’s maiden flight.

Alice is on standby at the Grant County International Airport, Moses Lake, WA. Video still: Eviation Livestream

The Flight

More than a dozen reporters and about 100 individuals, including customers and suppliers, waited for Alice to take off as the sun rose at around 6:50 a.m. down the runway at the MWH. At around 4,000 feet above ground level, the morning sky turned pink and there were a few stray clouds.

This revealed a row of buildings and hangars that resembled a string of pearls along the runway. The temperature in the morning was in the 50s Fahrenheit, and there was only a very slight breeze of around 2 knots.

The first flight of the experimental aircraft lasted around 9 minutes and 3 seconds. Before landing back at Moses Lake, Alice performed a test flight pattern over the airport while being propelled by two rear-mounted magniX650 electric motors.

Alice is on standby at the Grant County International Airport, Moses Lake, WA. Video still: Eviation Livestream

Initial Tests

On September 20, Eviation completed the high-speed taxi rotation test of its Alice aircraft as part of final preparations for the type’s first flight.

The 16,500 lb. Alice, a nine-passenger aircraft built from the ground up to travel 440 nm on an 8,300 lb. battery pack, was initially scheduled to conduct flight testing from the company’s Arlington, Washington, development, and assembly facility in late 2021.

After its initial flight, the Alice team will conduct an organized test campaign in the upcoming months with the goal of investigating the aircraft’s flight characteristics and comparing data with design expectations.

Alice’s magniX650 electric engine. Photo: Eviation

Alice Orders

As an Israeli startup working to create and commercialize a practical, all-electric aircraft for regional cargo and passenger flights, Eviation has attracted a lot of interest from the budding electric aircraft industry.

A provisional agreement to be the launch customer for Alice was signed in 2019 by regional airline Cape Air (9K), whose fleet comprises 70 Cessna 402s, four Britten-Norman Islanders, and 24 Tecnam P2012 Travellers.

In August 2021, Deutsche Post announced that it had ordered 12 aircraft for use by DHL to transport cargo, with delivery planned for 2024. In April 2022, Eviation stated that 9K had ordered 75 commuter aircraft.

Alice is ready for takeoff. Video still: Eviation Livestream

Additionally, this month saw Eviation receive its latest order for 50 Alice aircraft from customer Global Crossing Airlines Group, aka GlobalX.

The letter of intent for 50 all-electric commuters will open up new routes in GX markets spanning across Florida, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean – making the travel around these islands carbon-free.

Alice is in midflight. Video still: Eviation Livestream

A First Flight after a Few Hiccups

Alice’s initial flight experienced several delays in addition to the normal hiccups that come with such an experimental project. Eviation had hoped to fly the type for the first time late last year, but the COVID-19 epidemic and adverse weather, according to the company, delayed testing and preparations until 2022.

Alice then encountered a runway excursion on January 28 at AWO north of Seattle, which caused it to veer a few hundred feet off Runway 16. No injuries or damage were reported, but the gear had to be freed with shovels and some hard work before Alice could be towed back to its hangar.

Alice’s maiden flight was also preceded by major leadership changes with the departures of chairman Roei Ganzarski in January and Eviation co-founder Omer Bar-Yohay, who stepped down as Eviation’s CEO in February.

Gregory Davis, who served as President of Eviation since May 2021, was appointed interim CEO in February 2022 and permanent CEO on September 16, 2022.

Video still: Eviation Livestream

What’s ahead for Alice?

With this proof of flight, Mr. Davis said today in a press conference at MWH that the company was ready to enter the market.

“This momentous occasion… it’s a change… ushering in a new era in aviation,” said the CEO. “This is the first radical change in aerospace propulsion technology since we went from the Super Constellation to the 707, from the piston engine to the jet engine, and now to the electric motor.”

What next for Eviation is to develop and produce an aircraft for the commuter, e-cargo, and executive markets. However, Eviation must first certify Alice under Part 23 for airworthiness, which would be the first Part 23 aircraft that’s all fly-by-wire.

Alice after completing its maiden flight. Video still: Eviation Livestream

Featured image: Video still from Eviation Livestream. Sources, Eviation, flyingmag.com

Source: airwaysmag.com

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