World’s First Commuter Electric Plane Is Preparing for Maiden Flight

The prototype e-plane, named Alice, can accommodate nine passengers and two crew members.

By Sissi Cao 

The world’s first all-electric “commuter” plane, Alice, made by Israeli company Eviation, is preparing for its first test flight at an airport near Seattle.

A prototype of Alice was spotted on Monday at Arlington Municipal Airport north of Seattle, Washington, where it performed engine tests in preparation for a high-speed taxi test.

Alice made its first public appearance at the Paris Air Show in 2019. Eviation claimed the electric aircraft could reduce maintenance and operating costs by up to 70 percent compared with commercial jets. The latest iteration of Alice features a fly-by-wire system made by Honeywell and boasts a range of 440 nautical miles and a maximum cruise speed of 250 knots.

Alice’s “commuter” configuration can accommodate nine passengers and a crew of two. The plane can also be transformed into an “executive” configuration, designed for fewer people in business class-like seating, and a “cargo” configuration that offers a 450-cubic-foot, temperature-controlled cargo bay.

Eviation CEO Omer Bar-Yohay told FLYING magazine on Monday that Alice was only “five to six [nice weather] testing days away from starting the flight campaign.”

Eviation took Alice for a low-speed taxi test on December 17, the same date 118 years ago when the Wright Brothers test flew their first airplane. Bar-Yohay posted a video of the test on Twitter the next day and wrote, “December 17th, 1903 was a historic day as the Wright Brothers changed the world forever with the first powered flight. We just taxied Alice yesterday…no big deal.”

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How This Hydrogen-Powered Aircraft Could Kickstart Zero-Carbon F1 Racing

Maca’s Carcopter S11, shown at CES, will be the only air racer powered by hydrogen fuel cells. The company says it’ll be race-ready in 2023. 

By J. GEORGE GORANT

Racers, start your fuel cells!

The hydrogen-powered Carcopter S 11 may be slow out of the gate compared to some of its competitors, but it has definitely joined the sprint to become the first alternative-powered VTOL racer. Competitor Alauda not only has a working full-scale prototype of its Airspeeder, it has already staged a short drag contest between two remotely controlled models, establishing itself as the early frontrunner to create a zero-carbon F1 type circuit.

But French company Maca announced its plans for the Carcopter a year ago, and showed off a one-third scale model last week at CES.

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H2 Clipper Will Resurrect Hydrogen Airships to Haul Green Fuel Across the Planet

By Edd Gent

Airships might seem like a technology from a bygone era, but a startup says their new design could become a crucial cog in the green hydrogen supply chain.

While transitioning away from fossil fuels will prove crucial in our efforts to combat climate change, it’s easier said than done for some industries. While road and rail transport are rapidly electrifying, in aviation, batteries are a long way from being able to provide the weight-to-power ratio required for aviation. And even the largest batteries are still not big enough to power a container ship on long-distance crossings.

Hydrogen is increasingly being seen as a promising alternative for these hard to decarbonize sectors. It has a higher energy density than natural gas and can either be burned in internal combustion engines or combined with oxygen in a fuel cell to create electricity.

While much of today’s hydrogen is derived from natural gas and therefore not much better than fossil fuels, in theory you can also make it by using renewable electricity to power electrolyzers that split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Producing green hydrogen economically is still a huge challenge, but there are hopes that it could help wean hard to electrify sectors off polluting fossil fuels.

But transporting hydrogen remains a sticking point: Areas that are abundant in renewable energy such as sun and wind are not always close to where the hydrogen is needed. Shipping large amounts of the gas around the world will clearly be a major logistical challenge, but a start-up called H2 Clipper has an ingenious workaround.

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Archer’s Maker eVTOL performs first hover flight

By VYTE KLISAUSKAITE

Archer Aviation’s electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) demonstrator Maker has completed its first hover flight, marking the company’s first full and complete systems validation.  

“The past six months have been an incredible journey, from unveiling Maker to watching it take its first flight,” said Brett Adcock, Archer co-founder and co-CEO. “It’s been humbling to build a leading eVTOL company and educate the public on clean transportation alternatives.” 

Archer’s Maker demonstrator is an autonomous two-seater eVTOL vehicle that has been certified for flight testing by the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The next step is to test Maker’s capabilities of forward flying. 

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Zuri’s Hybrid VTOL Nailed Its First Hover Flight, It Boasts a Range of 447 Miles

By Cristina Mircea

It started in 2017 with a simple sketch and three years later, an experimental aircraft was born. Now, Czech Republic-based manufacturer Zuri releases a video with the first hover test of its hybrid VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) flying machine. 7 photos

Zuri carried the test back in September, but it only shared the video now, boasting of achieving a true milestone in developing its aircraft.

The VTOL with a wingspan of 36 ft (11 m) took off and achieved its first hover flight at an airport near Zbraslavice. Even though it was just a short hover up to 9.8 ft (3 m) altitude, it was still a great opportunity for the team to measure several performance parameters of the motors and control systems, parameters they couldn’t obtain during the aircraft’s ground performance tests.

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UK’s Heathrow Airport to Begin Operating 200 MPH Electric Air Taxis by 2025

by Otilia Drăgan

UK’s Heathrow airport is gearing up to operate electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles. In just a few years, zero-emissions air taxis could become day-to-day reality. 

Vertical Aerospace believes it has more conditional pre-orders for its eVTOL than most companies in this industry, reaching up to 1,350 aircraft worth $5.4 billion. American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Avolon, Bristow Group, and Iberojet are some of its global customers. In addition, the company has now taken a significant step in the UK by teaming up with a hub airport. 

Vertical and Heathrow will begin working on the adequate framework for future eVTOL operations, from airport infrastructure and regulatory changes that need to be made to analyzing the potential impact on the surrounding communities and job opportunities. According to Vertical, some of the airlines operating at Heathrow are interested in supporting the development of eVTOL technology and bringing it to the public.

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World’s First Liquid Hydrogen-Powered Aircraft Boasts Unmatched Range and Endurance

by Otilia Drăgan

There’s an ongoing debate about sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) versus hydrogen when it comes to the subject of sustainable aviation. Some say that SAF is the best available solution right now, while others think that liquid hydrogen is the answer for long-term green aviation.

While the U.S. Government is investing millions of dollars into SAFdevelopment-related projects, and giants such as United Airlines are signing huge purchase agreements for alternatives to conventional fuel, a small startup in the Netherlands is slowly working on the world’s first manned liquid hydrogen-powered aircraft.

AeroDelft is an impressive company not just because of its very ambitious goal but also because its team consists of 50 students from various institutions, including TU Delft, Erasmus University Rotterdam, and Utrecht University, representing a total of 17 nationalities. Each of these students is bringing a unique expertise to Project Phoenix, set to become the first zero-emissions aircraft running entirely on liquid hydrogen.

The company was set up in 2018 and is currently working on both the 1:3 scale prototype and the full-scale version. The prototype (Phoenix PT) is an E-genius airplane with a wingspan of almost 20 feet (6 meters) and a maximum take-off weight of 110 lbs (50 kg). In comparison, the full-scale version (Phoenix FS) is a two-seater Sling 4 aircraft with a wingspan of almost 33 feet (10 meters) and a take-off weight of 2,000 lbs (920 kg).

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Solar-powered aircraft could spend six months in the stratosphere at a time

Image:The solar-powered Zephyr aircraft could soon be spending up to six months in the air at a time

The aircraft could be used for internet connectivity as well as for military purposes, and Airbus has previously signed deals to provide versions of it to the UK’s Ministry of Defence.

Airbus has flown a solar-powered aircraft on two 18-day trips, and says the Zephyr could soon spend six months in the air at a time.

The skinny plane, which resembles an unmanned glider although it has two small propellers, has had two test flights in civilian airspace.

It operates in the stratosphere, higher than planes but lower than satellites, and the company hopes it could help bring internet connectivity to billions of people around the world.

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With NASA partnership, Orlando begins planning for air taxis, flying cars

A rendering of a Lillium jet in flight. The company is planning to build a vertiport in Lake Nona.

By Tribune Content Agency

ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando is preparing for when flying cars are an option for those who want to soar over congested highways or between nearby cities. And they may arrive far sooner than 2062, as “The Jetsons” predicted.

The city has signed onto a partnership with NASA to develop strategies for welcoming electric oversized drones, which take off vertically from landing pads called vertiports. The city’s first vertiport, to be built by the German company Lillium, is planned for the Lake Nona area.

Though officials suspect the mode of transportation could take off in coming years, so far the Federal Aviation Authority hasn’t approved any such vehicles for use. But a recent study found that a piece of a projected $2.5 billion market could be in play for early adopters of the technology.

“We’ve heard from different operators that their hope is to be in operation with passengers sometime in the 2024-2025 time frame,” said Jacques Coulon, an Orlando transportation planning projects coordinator. “For us, that means they’ll want to have a vertiport in place and so we’ll need to have regulations set and full understanding of what those impacts are before then.”

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Craft Aerospace’s novel take on VTOL aircraft could upend local air travel – TechCrunch

By Laurie Foti

Air taxis may still be pie in the sky, but there’s more than one way to move the air travel industry forward. Craft Aerospace aims to do so with a totally new vertical takeoff and landing aircraft that it believes could make city-to-city hops simpler, faster, cheaper and greener.

The aircraft — which, to be clear, is still in small-scale prototype form — uses a new VTOL technique that redirects the flow of air from its engines using flaps rather than turning them (like the well-known, infamously unstable Osprey), making for a much more robust and controllable experience.

Co-founder James Dorris believes that this fast, stable VTOL craft is the key that unlocks a new kind of local air travel, eschewing major airports for minor ones or even heliports. Anyone that’s ever had to take a flight that lasts under an hour knows that three times longer is spent in security lines, gate walks and, of course, getting to and from these necessarily distant major airports.

“We’re not talking about flying wealthy people to the mall — there are major inefficiencies in major corridors,” Dorris told TechCrunch. “The key to shortening that delay is picking people up in cities and dropping them off in cities. So for these short hops, we need to combine the advantages of fixed-wing aircraft and VTOL.”

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Solar-Powered Unmanned Aircraft Closer to Revolutionizing Telecommunication

By Otilia Drăgan

You’ve probably heard of satellite advancements that are taking telecommunication systems and capabilities to the next level, but did you know that there’s an unmanned, solar-powered aircraft that’s about to revolutionize telecommunications services? 9 photos

High Altitude Platform Stations (HAPS) are an alternative to satellites operating in the stratosphere instead of space. HAPSMobile, a subsidiary of a Japanese corporation called SoftBank, is one of the pioneers in this rising industry and developed the Sunglider. 

This innovative aircraft is meant to carry the telecommunications payload to the required area, and the fact that it’s been backed by NASA shows the importance and potential of this new way of providing connectivity. In addition, this norm-breaking air vehicle was supposed to stay at operational altitudes for a long time without having to return to the ground for refueling.  

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Autonomous High-Speed Test Vehicle Gearing up to Revolutionize Hypersonic Flight

By Otilia Drăgan

Supersonic and hypersonic aircraft are slowly but surely coming back to the forefront of aviation. NASA is in the last development stages of its supersonic research aircraft, X-59, and Stratolaunch is getting ready to operate its first hypersonic test vehicle, the Talon-A. 8 photos

Despite previous attempts, the hypersonic flight is still in its infancy and requires a lot of testing, which wouldn’t be possible without an adequate launch platform. Stratolaunch first developed Roc, the world’s largest airplane, meant to act as a multi-vehicle carrier aircraft for hypersonic test vehicles. Roc has already completed two test flights, with several others to follow.

Another recent milestone for Stratolaunch is the successful completion of the Critical Design Review (CDR) for its first hypersonic vehicle, the Talon-A, which was carried and launched by the Roc. 

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