World’s First Hybrid-Electric Regional Aircraft Takes Flight

The Ampaire Eco Caravan takes off on its test flight.
Photo Credit: Ampaire

LONDON – The Eco Caravan reportedly reduces fuel consumption and emissions drastically, leading the way to what is being termed a sustainability revolution. The aircraft has now successfully conducted it’s first test flight.

The Eco Caravan is a nine-seat regional aircraft, which made its first flight on a fully-integrated hybrid electric propulsion system. Ampaire expects that its revolutionary technology will be integrated into any respective regional aircraft that will enter commercial from 2024 and onwards.

The first-ever electrified regional propulsion system is said to be a revolutionary drive in sustainability in aviation. 

The aptly-named Eco Caravan owned and operated by Ampaire, a U.S based company, conducted its first ever flight driven by a fully-integrated hybrid-electric propulsion system. The U.S based company has high expectations, to the point that it expects the caravan to be the first ever electrified regional aircraft to dive into commercial operations in 2024, depending on certification.

Ampaire CEO Kevin Noertker enthusiastically stated that: “Aviation is the hardest industry to decarbonize,” adding, “Fully-electric aircraft are range limited because of the weight and energy capacity of current-generation batteries.”

“Hybrid-electric aircraft, however, can preserve the range and utility of today’s aircraft. That is why we are focused on hybrid-electric propulsion for a series of increasingly capable regional aircraft. It’s a way for the airline industry to decarbonize more quickly and also to benefit from lower operating costs.”

The event of the first ever green flight attracted many parties and attention. This includes potential clients who want to electrify their airplanes. Last month (October) the Ampaire announced a key strategic alliance with Air France Industries KLM Engineering and Maintenance) or abbreviated as (AFI KLM E&M) for a package of global maintenance service and support actions.

Relationship with MONTE

In October, MONTE, a large creditor and a strong advocate for sustainable regional aviation services, solutions and technologies provider ordered to Eco Cessna Caravans from Ampaire. This is a truly big step.

Noertker stated positively: “These types of relationships ensure that Ampaire’s customers worldwide have compelling financing and leasing support alongside world-class maintenance/repair/overhaul support.” He went on to report that the first flight was “smooth and quiet.”

The upgraded Ampaire Caravan is extremely close to the standard Cessna Grand Caravan, but with replaced with the electric engine, instead of an entire compressed ignition engine.

The aircraft is also equipped with a battery pack integrated into the structure of the aircraft, which will not compromise, passenger comfort and cargo space.

About the First Flight

With test pilot Elliot Seguin, the first flight was not long at all. The first flight took 33 minutes in duration, to make initial checks of the revolutionary propulsion system. For the flight alone, then environmentally friendly Eco Caravan departed Camarillo Airport north of Los Angeles at 7:49AM PST.

The Caravan climbed to an altitude of 3,500 feet at full thrust, with a combination of both power from the combustion and the electric engine.

The pilot then throttled back to cruise setting right after take-off, where the aircraft spent approximately 20 minutes playing with numerous power settings, while at the same time evaluating the performances of the hybrid power train. 

Noertker stated that: “The Eco Caravan propulsion system performed just as expected,” with test pilot Seguin confirming: “It was smooth and quiet. All temperature and power output readings were normal.”

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