Alice, the world’s first all-electric passenger plane finally takes off for the first time. The plane, developed by Eviation Aircraft, reached an altitude of 3,500 feet during an 8-minute flight over Washington.
The Alice, powered by two 640-kilowatt electric motors, was gliding unhindered as it was spotted at 7:10 a.m. on Tuesday, September 27 from Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake., Washington.
Alice is targeted at the commuter and cargo market and will operate flights ranging from 150 to 250 miles. This is the same as a standard flight from New York City to Washington, D.C. which is about 206 miles by plane.
During the maiden flight, the plane’s motors sound much quieter, more like an electric lawn mower, and the plane itself produces a sound that is more like a hum than the typical roar of a gasoline-powered jet.
Today, our all-electric Alice aircraft electrified the skies and embarked on an unforgettable world’s first flight. See Alice make history in the video clip below. We’re honored to celebrate this groundbreaking leap towards a more #sustainable future.#electricaviation pic.twitter.com/Q9dFoTPyiB
The Alice will be available in three different configurations: a nine-passenger commuter, six-passenger executive cabin and an eCargo version. All configurations will support two crew and an executive cabin and the eCargo version is identical to the commuter, except for the more luxurious interior.
Arlington, Washington-based Eviation has signed a deal with DHL Express for 12 Alice eCargo aircraft; In addition, two regional airlines, Massachusetts-based Cape Air and Florida-based Global Crossing Airlines, have ordered 75 and 50 Alice planes, respectively.
“Today as we embark on the next era of aviation, we have taken the skies by storm with Alice’s unforgettable first flight,” Eviation president and CEO Gregory Davis said in a statement.
“The public now knows what affordable, clean and sustainable aviation looks and sounds like for the first time in a fixed-wing electric aircraft,” he said. “This groundbreaking milestone will lead to innovation in sustainable air travel, and shape the future of passenger and cargo travel.”
The name Alice comes from Lewis Carroll’s novel Alice in Wonderland. Back when the company was just starting out in 2016, its co-founder, Omer Bar-Yohay, was working on designing this plane while listening to Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit playing in the background. He started calling the project Alice.
The plane was first unveiled more than three years ago at the Paris Air Show. The company has put the prototype plane through years of assembly and ground testing and the work appears to have paid off.
“Excellent,” said test pilot Steve Crane, according to GeekWire. “It was handled as we expected. Very responsive, very fast on throttle, and in for great landings. I couldn’t be happier than this.”
Crane explained that the relatively short flight was meant to be the first in a series of ‘small steps’ for the test programme. “Today is just about the initial envelope,” he told reporters. “For future testing, we will expand that envelope.”
If all goes to plan, Eviation hopes to get certified by the Federal Aviation Administration and their product will hit the market in 2027.
“What we’ve learned so much, and one of the main things driving the development of our program is advances in battery technology, right?” Davis told GeekWire.
“So we’re, I’d say, completely honest with ourselves about what we’re going to achieve. Everything will be based on getting the batteries to fit into the development cycle for the aircraft.”