Electric Airplane Takes First Flight

Alice, the commuter aircraft designed by the start-up Eviation, has soared to 3,500 feet in successful test in US. The plane was built to carry nine passengers and two pilots and took off from Moses Lake, Washington, at 7:10 a.m. Tuesday. The plane reached an altitude of 3,500 feet (1,066 meters) and landed eight minutes later. The company’s goal is to show such electric planes are viable as commuter aircraft for regional travel, flying at an altitude of about 15,000 feet (4,572 meters).

The plane, designed by engineers in Israel and Washington state, is powered by 21,500 small Tesla-style battery cells that weigh over 4 tons. Eviation founder Omer Bar-Yohav hailed the plane as a “new age of aviation” in an interview with The Times of Israel last year.

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Alice, First All Electric Airplane with 9 Passengers On Board

Two years after unveiling, to much fanfare, a prototype for the first known all-electric airplane at the Paris Air Show in 2019, Israeli-American company Eviation Aircraft is preparing for the plane’s first test flight to usher in a “new age of aviation,” according to founder and CEO Omer Bar-Yohay.

The test flight for the aircraft, dubbed the Alice, was expected “before the end of the year” with the plane — now in its fifth iteration — in final assembly at Eviation headquarters in Arlington, Washington, just north of Seattle.

With nine passengers, Eviation says the Alice will have a top speed of 253 miles per hour (407 km/h) and a range of 440 nautical miles, which works out to about 506 miles (815 km). That means the plane should be able to easily make the trip between Los Angeles and San Francisco on a single charge. Anyone paying attention to electric vehicle announcements is probably used to outlandish power and range claims, but Alice’s numbers should actually be attainable. That’s because its high-density battery system uses currently available cells.  “Alice” can be flown by a single pilot and carry over 1,200 kgs (2,600 pounds) of cargo. The charging time per flight hour is approximately 30 minutes.