German industrial giant Siemens is joining hands with electric-plane start-up Eviation for the development of an aircraft that would be powered by batteries.
The company said on Wednesday that the German industrial conglomerate would help out the electric-plane start-up to design and develop the motor of the planned electric powered passenger plane by the startup.
The all electric powered aircraft that has been designed by Eviation has been named Alice and would be able to carry nine passengers in addition to the crew. The startup has also set a target of showcasing the plane and flying it at the Paris Air Show in July this year.
A significant amount of research and investment on the development of battery powered aircrafts is being done by aircraft manufacturers such as Boeing and Airbus together with engine manufacturers like Rolls-Royce. However, the efforts to design and develop a commercial aircraft powered by battery and passengers are able to fly in them still faces a number of challenges.
One of the major challenges is to constructing or finding a battery or a set of batteries that would be powerful enough and provide enough power for a flight.
A takeoff weight of 14,000 pounds would be the maximum limit for Eviation’s electric powered plane Alice. 7,000 pounds would be the weight of the battery only.
“It’s a huge battery with some aircraft built around it, if you will,” Eviation CEO Omer Bar-Yohay said in a television interview.
According to Eviation, a maximum of nine passengers would be able to sit on the Alice planes and the crafts would be able to fly for a distance of 650 miles on a single charge of battery.
Eviation is not the only firm in this sector because there are a number of other start-ups and established companies which want to explore the flying options apart from the costly regional or private flights or lengthy car rides. For example, an engine supplier — French company Safran, was acquired by hybrid-electric plane company Zunum Aero last October. Boeing and Boeing- and JetBlue Airways is a supporter and investor in Zunum Aero while the company is planning to test fly its electric planes later this year. Last year, easyJet, Europe’s budget airline announced that it intends to operate Wright Electric made nine seater electric planes by 2027.
There are plans of shipping electric planes to buyers in 2002 by Eviation.
There are other issues such as convincing regulators that the electric planes are safe and reliable, which have to be faced by electric plane makers before they can take the planes ot the market for commercial use.
“It’s coming, but you won’t be able to fly on an electric aircraft from London to Paris soon,” said Robert Thomson, an aviation analyst at consulting firm Roland Berger.
Thomson said that currently there are over 100 electric-aircraft projects ongoing across the world and therefore this is a stiff challenge and competition for Eviation to manufacture electric planes for the masses.
“People seem to be spending real money on it,” Thomson added.
(Adapted from CNBC.com)