Sunday, February 25, 2024

Hybrid Electric EEL aircraft completes a record 12-hour flight

Ampaire, a California-based manufacturer of hybrid electric aircraft systems, announced that its Electric EEL technology demonstrator aircraft had flown for exactly 12 hours on December 10 from Camarillo, California.

The company believes the flight establishes a new record for hybrid electric aircraft endurance with a total flight time of 12 hours, with over two hours of fuel and battery reserves remaining.

Ampaire’s Cessna-based Electric EEL, a converted Cessna 337 Skymaster, is being used to develop Ampaire’s H570 AMP Drive hybrid-electric propulsion system. This powertrain includes batteries, electric motors, and inverters that turn two sets of propellers along with Red Aircraft’s AO3 engine.

The main aim of this project is to convert Cessna Caravan aircraft into the company’s Eco Caravan product, which is expected to achieve a remarkable 50 to 70% reduction in fuel consumption and emissions compared to traditional Pratt & Whitney PT6 turboprop engines.

The latest Electric EEL test flight covered 1,375 miles (2,213 km) and followed a series of flights since the 2019 maiden flight of its Electric EEL technology testbed aircraft. It includes the longest flight for a hybrid electric aircraft – 1,135 statute miles en route from Los Angeles to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and the maiden flight of its hybrid electric Eco Caravan aircraft in 2022, the world’s largest hybrid electric airplane.

“Through this groundbreaking mission, Ampaire has shattered the conventional boundaries of electrified flight, underscoring our relentless pursuit of transformative vehicle performance and commercial utility,” said Ampaire CEO Kevin Noertker. “Our unique hybrid electric solutions deliver unparalleled operating economics and unlock endurance and operational flexibility critical to our customer’s needs. The indomitable spirit of innovation within the entire Ampaire team propels us forward on this journey toward a sustainable future. It is a testament to our lasting commitment to pioneering excellence.”

Ampaire’s approach to advanced propulsion technology differs from many in the electric aircraft space. They focus on retrofitting existing conventional aircraft instead of designing their own discrete airframes. This approach is intended to hasten electric technology adoption and make cleaner air power accessible to everybody.