An Israeli startup called Eviation Aircraft unveiled the world's first commercial all-electric passenger plane last week at the Paris Airshow, reported GeekWire.
Called Alice, the all-electric plane is powered by three rear-facing pusher-propellers, one in the back and two at the wingtips that rotate.
Eviation CEO Omer Bar-Yohay told reporters that the plane seats nine passengers and can travel 276mph at 10,000ft altitude over the distance of about 650 miles. Flight testing is expected in the near term at Moses Lake's airport in partnership with Seattle-based AeroTEC. The plane is scheduled to enter service by 2022, could transform small distance travel across America.
"This plane looks like this not because we wanted to build a cool plane, but because it is electric," said Bar-Yohay.
"You build a craft around your propulsion system. Electric means we can have lightweight motors; it allows us to open up the design space."
Eviation logged its first orders this year from regional airline Cape Air, which runs a fleet of 90 aircraft. Retail price is $4 million per plane, Bar-Yohay said.
He said the new electric plane is being "built the way a plane should be built in the 21st century."
Clermont Group, a private investment fund of Singapore-based billionaire Richard Chandler, has been the top funder of Eviation since inception. Clermont has given Eviation $76 million in exchange for a 70% stake, according to the latest SEC filing dating January 3.
In a memo, Chandler told his staff that commercial electric planes would "change the culture of air travel for future generations," and that the aerospace industry is about to enter a new golden era.
"45% of all flights are under 500 miles – approximately the distance from London to Zurich, or New York to Detroit. This puts almost half of all global flights within the range of an electric motor."
Clermont has also invested millions of dollars into magniX, the firm that manufactures the plane's electric motors. Bar-Yohay claimed if there was an air-emergency, the aircraft could fly on two engines.
Bar-Yohay said, "This is an exciting accomplishment...especially here on the grounds in Paris, but it's also very clearly just the beginning."
If Alice passes upcoming flight tests and goes into production; it could enter service by 2022. By the mid-2020s, the plane could completely revolutionize small distance travel.