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Wed, Oct 18, 2023

flyVbird Signs LOI for 25 Eviation 'Alice' Electric Aircraft

Nascent German Carrier Betting Big

Founded in 2015 by Omer Bar-Yohay, Omri Regev, and Aviv Tzidon, Washington State-based Eviation is an aerospace technology concern about the business of developing an all-electric, nine-passenger, regional aircraft to which the company has ascribed the whimsical sobriquet Alice.

In October 2023 Eviation announced flyVbird, an emerging, on-demand, German regional airline, had signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) for 25 Alice aircraft, with options for a further 25.

flyVbird, which has yet to secure an Air Carrier Certificate of its own, intends to service rural areas via smaller, more accessible airports.

Eviation vice-president of Commercial Sales Eddie Jaisaree stated: "The European Union is moving forward with ambitious new rules aimed at decarbonizing the aviation industry. The Alice is the innovative and beautifully designed aircraft needed to lead aerospace's transition to net zero carbon emissions. We are very pleased to partner with flyVbird in the future of flight."

flyVbird CEO Anton Lutz remarked: "The fact that Alice is a zero-carbon, quiet, low-operational-cost aircraft makes it the perfect solution for flyVbird to deliver clean, on-demand regional travel across Europe into the next decade and beyond. Through our unique AI-driven approach, we will offer direct alternatives to typical hub-and-spoke operations and Alice will play a critical role."

Alice—the name of which derives contemporaneously of the titular character of Lewis Carroll’s famed 1865 novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and the Jefferson Airplane’s classic rock anthem White Rabbit—is a strange creature, wholly deserving of its psychedelic namesakes.

Evoking images of a low-wing, flat-bottomed Piaggio Avanti, Alice’s defining feature is an electric propulsion system designed and manufactured by MaginX, another Washington State based aerospace concern.

Both Eviation and MaginX are subsidiaries of the Clermont Group, a privately held conglomerate headquartered in Singapore.

Alice gets about by dint of a pair of MaginX’s magni650 Electric Propulsion Units (EPU)—850-shaft-horsepower, 640-kilowatt contraptions, each comprising MaginX’s magni650 electric motor; four magniDrive 100s, which function as inverters and motor controller units; and a closed-loop liquid cooling system that facilitates full-power operation in all flight regimes regardless of ambient environmental conditions. 

Of particular interest is the clever devilry by which MaginX designed its EPU to deliver torque and power at rotational rates commensurate with real-world propeller RPMs. The architecture facilitates direct motor-to-propeller connection, thereby precluding the need for heavy, maintenance-intensive planetary gearboxes.

Eviation predicts Alice will be produced in commuter, cargo, and executive iterations, each capable of traveling two-hundred to three-hundred-nautical-miles at a maximum speed of 260-knots. A target useful load of 2,500 to 2,600-pounds has been advertised, but—as with the antecedent range and speed figures—is wholly theoretical and predicated largely upon near-future advancements in battery technology.

Continuing in the vein of conjecture, Eviation expects Alice to earn FAA type certification by 2027—a good deal later than the 2024 time-frame to which the company formerly alluded.

Notwithstanding its odd, ellipsoid fuselage, Alice will be offered, ostensibly, in a pressurized variant Eviation alleges will reach a service ceiling of FL320 and maintain a 1,200-foot MSL cabin at FL280.

Alice’s price, after the fashion of the entirety of 2023’s economic realities, has risen markedly from the $4-million figure set forth in 2018 to an undisclosed amount of which Eviation boss Gregory Davis quipped: “I wouldn’t rely on anything that was mentioned a few years ago.” 

FMI: www.eviation.com

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