Flying cheaper than driving for trips up to 300 miles and 3x faster? Also energy cost for 1 hr of electric flight is $7 in Solar Impulse spinoff H55

Eviation claims Alice is capable of flying nine passengers at 240 knots (276 mph) up to 650 miles on a single charge. The aircraft will use electric motors from MagniX, an all-electric flight propulsion company which recently announced its own partnership with Harbour Air to make the seaplane operator the world’s first all-electric airline.

BlackBird adding 100+ Bye electric airplanes to on-demand service by 2020, 3x faster and 4x cheaper than driving, by Phil Dzikiy, Electrek, 22 May 2019

BlackBird, an on-demand flight service that’s been called “Uber for planes,” is partnering with Bye Aerospace to add more than 100 electric airplanes to its platform. The companies say that the partnership will make flying cheaper more affordable than driving for trips up to 300 miles.

Bye Aerospace announced that BlackBird has agreed to purchase its first 100 commercial 4-seat eFlyer 4 electric planes. BlackBird will also purchase 10 of Bye’s eFlyer 2 planes — Norway’s OSM Aviation ordered 60 of those planes last month.

The eFlyer 4 is being billed as “the world’s first practical four-seat, electric-powered plane.” It will be certified with the FAA after eFlyer 2 gains certification, a process that has already begun. Bye Aerospace says of the eFlyer 4:

The energy cost for the electric eFlyer 4 is four times less expensive than driving a conventional car per mile, three times faster, and requires no aviation fuel, resulting in zero emissions and significantly lower noise pollution compared to conventional aircraft. The affordability aspect alone helps answer high overhead and drives replacement of today’s outdated legacy general aviation aircraft fleets.

The idea is that flights on electric planes can be less expensive than what’s currently offered — and far less expensive than a trip by gas-powered car. According to the video below, the 4 seater will retail at $349,000 (vs. 2 seater trainer’s $249,00 price).

BlackBird notes how the lower costs of operating the electric planes will have an effect on customers’ wallets in a Medium post:

These planes are 75% less expensive and 5–10 times faster than driving a car. What’s that mean for you? Think about a place you love that’s five hours away by car, likely costing more than $100 in gas each way. As soon as next year, that same place will be 45min and $25 away with BlackBird.

Looking at the BlackBird app currently, prices vary greatly based on locations and dates. The most reasonably priced flights generally operate out of a number of California airports, in addition to Las Vegas, at least for now. But the service also appears to be growing on the East Coast, where BlackBird is offering flight bundles in the New York City area.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Bye Aerospace’s eFlyer 4 may be FAA certified by Q4 2020. At that point, the planes will be able to start carrying passengers through BlackBird.

Electrek’s Take

Along with Harbour Air’s planned all-electric seaplane fleet in the Pacific Northwest, BlackBird’s partnership with Bye Aerospace looks to be one of the first ventures that will get a fair amount of passengers into electric planes.

If all goes according to plan, those passengers will be saving time and money, and cutting travel emissions as soon as next year. So if you don’t mind flying in a small plane — they’re certainly not for everyone — the benefits are obvious. The mall planes also fly between more non-commercial airports, for better or worse and the range isn’t yet known.

There are others in the space as well, like Lilium, which is currently testing its all-electric five-seater air taxi. As carmakers race to gain a hold of the electric car market on the ground, other companies are vying for a prime position in the skies.


Harbour Air to convert all its seaplanes to electric for first all-electric airline, by Phil Dzikiy, Electrek, Mar. 26th 2019

Seaplane operator Harbour Air and electric aviation company MagniX have announced plans to make Harbour Air’s entire commercial seaplane fleet all-electric.

Being billed as the “world’s first all-electric airline,” the partnership will see MagniX convert all of Harbour Air’s more than 30 seaplanes to electric. The planes will be powered by MagniX’s magni500, a 750-horsepower all-electric motor.

Harbour Air operates the largest all-seaplane fleet in North America. It flies 12 routes in the Pacific Northwest in Canada and the U.S., from cities like Seattle, Vancouver, and Victoria and smaller destinations. The company says more than 500,000 passengers fly on its 30,000 commercial flights each year. Founder and CEO of Harbour Air Seaplanes, Greg McDougall, said of the partnership:

“Harbour Air first demonstrated its commitment to sustainability by becoming the first fully carbon-neutral airline in North America in 2007, through the purchase of carbon offsets. Through our commitment to making a positive impact on people’s lives, the communities where we operate and the environment, we are once again pushing the boundaries of aviation by becoming the first aircraft to be powered by electric propulsion. We are excited to bring commercial electric aviation to the Pacific Northwest, turning our seaplanes into ePlanes.”

Harbour Air’s DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver, a six-passenger commercial aircraft, will be the first seaplane converted to all-electric. Harbour Air and MagniX expect to conduct the first flight tests of the all-electric aircraft later this year. MagniX CEO Roei Ganzarski said,

In 2018, 75 percent of worldwide airline flights were 1,000 miles or less in range. With MagniX’s new propulsion systems coupled with emerging battery capabilities, we see tremendous potential for electric aviation to transform this heavily trafficked ‘middle mile’ range. We’re excited to partner with Harbour Air, a forward thinking, like-minded company that is dedicated to bringing environmentally conscious, cost effective air-transport solutions to the West Coast of North America. This partnership will set the standard for the future of commercial aviation operators.”

Harbour Air’s commitment to making its entire fleet all-electric is a big step in electrified flight, which has seen progress over recent years. Last year, easyJet announced it would also be testing smaller electric airplane flights in 2019. easyJet CEO Johan Lundgren said electric flying “is becoming a reality” — that reality now seems a bit closer with this announcement from Harbour Air.

Electrek’s Take

MagniX recently announced successful testing of its 350 HP all-electric motor — this will be more than twice as powerful, and used on the smallest planes in Harbour Air’s fleet. Converting seaplanes seems like a good fit, and the two companies also seem to have found a good sweet spot in flight range.

Converting all of Harbour Air’s “seaplanes into ePlanes” isn’t going to happen overnight, but even so, this is a milestone. We hope for the best during testing.


Solar Impulse spinoff H55 completes first electric flight, aims to aid flying taxi development

Phil Dzikiy, Electrek, Jun. 21st 2019

H55, a spinoff of solar-powered flight project Solar Impulse, announced it has successfully completed a flight with an all-electric two-seater airplane which it sees as a “stepping stone” for electric VTOLs and flying taxi development.

The zero-emission Bristell Energic uses H55‘s electric propulsion system, though the plane is built by BRM Aero. The plane can stay in the air for 90 minutes. It has already received “considerable interest” from flight schools, according to H55 — it can offer 45-60 minutes of mission flight with enough reserves to be used in a typical flight training program. 

The Energic uses two 50 kWh battery packs, which it can fully charge in an hour. It’s able to climb 900 feet per minute. H55 estimates the energy cost for one hour of flight at $7.

Solar Impulse became known for its groundbreaking, record-setting solar-powered flights, and former Solar Impulse CEO/pilot André Borschberg is looking to bring that ambition to the more accessible H55, which he oversees as co-founder and executive chairman. In a statement about the Bristell Energic’s first flight, Borschberg said,

“…electric air transport will deeply transform and improve urban mobility. Electric propulsion has enabled the world of drones, it will do the same for aviation. The Bristell Energic is a stepping stone for the development of such new aviation transport solutions, where the challenge will be safety and certification. By having our electric airplanes fly and monitoring their performance, H55 will continue to build up big data essential for the development of VTOLs and flying taxis.”

H55 isn’t the only company in the space, of course. This year has seen its fair share of electric flight developments thus far, with a number of flight providers ordering electric airplanes for use in the near future, including BlackBirdCape Air, and Harbour Air.

H55’s goals seem to be more aligned with those selling planes to flight schools, like Bye Aerospace(which also sold planes to Blackbird), and those involved in air taxis, like Lilium.


Eviation’s all-electric Alice airplane coming to US regional airline Cape Air by 2022

Phil Dzikiy, Electrek, Jun. 18th 2019


All-electric aircraft manufacturer Eviation Aircraft has announced its first commercial customer — Cape Air, a Massachusetts-based regional airline that operates in the US and the Caribbean.

Israel-based Eviation is developing Alice, an all-electric airplane. The firm is currently showing off the first fully operational Alice prototype at the Paris Air Show (as seen above), where it announced its deal with Cape Air.

Cape Air is one of the largest regional airlines in the US, operating in 35 US and Caribbean cities, with a fleet of 92 nine-seater airplanes. Eviation says Cape Air has a double-digit purchase option for the nine-seat Alice, which it will incorporate into its existing fleet.

Alice will begin test flights this year. Eviation expects to receive certification in 2021, and it says it will start shipping the planes for commercial use by 2022.

Cape Air founder and CEO Dan Wolf said of the deal,

“Cape Air has never been just another airline. We are a company of firsts, and one with a deep sense of social responsibility.Seven years ago, we were recognized by the EPA for our sustainability efforts. Today, we are stewards in what is the world’s single most emissions-laden industries. We see tremendous opportunities to reduce the environmental impact of our operations, and to help our employees and communities do that as well. Augmenting our fleet with the all-electric Alice aircraft is the next chapter in our future.”

Eviation claims Alice is capable of flying nine passengers at 240 knots (276 mph) up to 650 miles on a single charge. The aircraft will use electric motors from MagniX, an all-electric flight propulsion company which recently announced its own partnership with Harbour Air to make the seaplane operator the world’s first all-electric airline.

Eviation announced earlier this year that Siemens would supply motors for the manufacturer’s Alice airplanes, later adding MagniX as another supplier. But today, Rolls Royce announced that it would acquire Siemens’ eAircraft business to accelerate the delivery of its electrification strategy and boost its ambition “to play a major role in the ‘third era’ of aviation.”