LONDON – MONTE, a financer of sustainable regional aircraft technology, and aircraft conversion company Ampaire have announced that they will be partnering up together and at the same time, MONTE has placed an order for 50 electric Eco Cessna Caravans.
The MONTE order
The order compromises 25 aircraft as a firm commitment and an option over 25 Eco Caravans. As part of this agreement, MONTE will become Ampaire’s preferred Eco Caravan financing partner and Ampaire will become MONTE’s electric-hybrid Caravan provider, which is all part of the Preferred Partner relationship.
Ampaire’s Eco Caravan can reduce fuel and emissions by as much as 70 percent on shorter trips and 50 percent on longer ones while preserving payload capability and extending range. When flown on sustainable aviation fuel, it is effectively carbon neutral.
The Eco Caravan’s operating cost is 25 to 40 percent lower than the Cessna Grand Caravan depending on the type of missions flown. The aircraft can recharge its batteries in flight, meaning it can use any airport that Caravans fly from today, regardless of ground charging capability.
Timothy Eyre, Investment Director, MONTE said: “MONTE is looking to build a fleet of low emission and zero emission aircraft to lease or finance for regional aircraft operators worldwide. Ampaire has emerged as the leading hybrid-electric technology provider and its Eco Caravan will be very attractive for a segment of our operators.”
“We are excited to have signed another key technology partnership and are looking forward to working with the Ampaire team to finance the Eco Caravan.”
Kevin Noertker, the CEO of Ampaire, added: “The Eco Caravan is our starting point for a revolution in air travel. It brings the cost per available seat mile down to the range of driving, benefiting operators and their passengers. It dramatically shrinks the aircraft’s carbon footprint.”
“The propulsion technology is scalable and we intend to quickly move toward larger regional aircraft and even the single-aisle jet market over time.”
Ampaire is a start-up based in California, United States, and converts already existing propellor planes to an electric-hybrid variant, such as the Cessna 337 Skymaster, which has been converted to the Electric EEL.
In the case of the 337 Skymaster conversion, the forward piston engine has been replaced by an electric motor powered by a battery, in a parallel hybrid configurator. Its first flight occurred on 6 June 2019, with the production plane planned for 2021, but it is still under development to date.
The electric Caravan is based on the Cessna C208B Grand Caravan (and EX variant) designs, with its first flight being planned in the second half of 2022, meaning that we can still expect its flight before the year is over. The production target year is set for 2024.
What makes this company unique compared to others, is that they are developing a plane in a parallel-hybrid configuration, meaning that the plane does not need to recharge while on the ground, but it recharges itself in the air.
. The company states that by doing so, they are eliminating the need for airport infrastructure and have “broken the chicken and the egg cycle of whether the vehicles come first, or the infrastructure for the charging comes first”.