Israeli Electric Passenger Plane Soars in Historic Debut Test Flight

Two regional aviation companies have already placed orders for the planes, which are expected to run with operating costs lower than those of conventional aircraft

Daniel Schmil
Daniel Schmil
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Eviation's "Alice," the world's first all-electric commuter airplane, during its first flight on Tuesday in Washington.
Eviation's "Alice," the world's first all-electric commuter airplane, during its first flight on Tuesday in Washington.Credit: Mathieu Lewis-Rolland - AFP
Daniel Schmil
Daniel Schmil

The Israeli company Eviation conducted a test flight of the world's first all-electric commuter aircraft on Tuesday, an eight-minute trial in which the plane reached a height of 3,500 feet.

The plane, known as Alice, is large compared to other electric planes. It can carry nine passengers and two crew members—or alternatively, up to 1.1 tons of cargo. Alice was also built from scratch as an electric plane rather than by converting an existing plane.

While Eviation’s planes are currently meant to travel distances of no more than 460 kilometers (252 miles), in the future, as battery technology improves, their range is expected to grow to 900 kilometers (559 miles).

The all-electric aircraft "Alice" taxis on the tarmac after its successful test flight on Tuesday in Washington.Credit: Mathieu Lewis-Rolland - AFP

Alice’s operating costs are additionally expected to be much lower than those of conventional planes, and it is expected to produce 20 to 30 percent less noise. Its maximum speed is around 460 kilometers (252 miles) per hour, which is more than sufficient for short flights.

Eviation was founded in Israel by Aviv Tzidon (who also founded the battery company Phinergy) and Omer Bar-Yohay. Today, the company's planes are built in the United States, and Eviation has offices in both Arlington, a city in the state of Washington not far from Seattle, and the Israeli town Kadima.

The company’s first major investor was the venture capital fund Ilan Holdings, but today, it is owned by the Singaporean company Clermont. It has so far raised some $200 million.

Eviation already has orders for 150 planes from two regional aviation companies in the United States, Cape Air and Global Crossing (75 planes each). It will also supply 12 cargo planes to DHL.

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