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Electric flight

by CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE
Staff Writer | September 27, 2022 4:54 PM

MOSES LAKE — The very first test flight Tuesday morning of Eviation’s battery-powered Alice airplane only lasted about eight minutes. However, the implications for commercial flight could last for decades to come.

“What we’ve done is made aviation history. This is about changing the way we fly,” said Eviation President and CEO Greg Davis as he stood with company test pilot Steven Crane on the ramp behind the main terminal at the Grant County International Airport. “And we are, well. obviously beaming with pride on this beautiful sunny day here at Moses Lake as we've just completed this flight.”

Founded in Tel Aviv in 2015 by Omer Bar-Yohay and Aviv Tzidon, Eviation signed a deal with Seattle-based AeroTEC to test and certify the Alice at the Paris Airshow in 2019 and moved its headquarters to Arlington, Washington, in 2020. The company hopes to eventually produce passenger, cargo and executive transport versions of the all-electric, battery-powered aircraft for short-haul flights of 200 nautical miles (about 230 standard miles) or less.

“We're targeting a 200 nautical mile useful range,” Davis said. “We've studied the market; about half the world's air travel is 500 nautical miles or less, but when you break it down a little bit further than that, about 20% of the North American air travel a little bit more globally, is 250 nautical miles or less.”

Crane said the goal of Tuesday’s short test flight was to see how responsive the aircraft is and gather data to make adjustments for the next flight in several weeks.

“The aircraft is just like we thought it was, very responsive, very quick to the throttles and came on in for a wonderful landing,” he said. “You just take baby steps. One step at a time.

“We've downloaded terabytes of data, we have the telemetry data to review, we're going to figure out what we need to tweak on the aircraft in order to improve its performance and then fly it again,” Crane said.

President and CEO of AeroTEC Lee Human described the test flight as absolutely amazing and another example of why Moses Lake is the place for cutting-edge aviation. The company has been working with Everett-based MagniX, which makes electric aircraft motors, to convert already existing planes like the Cessna Caravan and the 50-seat Dash 7 to hybrid electric versions, and tested an all-electric Cessna Caravan in 2020. The Alice is powered by two MagniX motors.

“This is what sets us apart,” Human said. “Here in Moses Lake, to bring these emerging technologies and show the world this is possible, I'm so proud of the team and so pleased to be part of the program and we look forward to the next steps.”

The next steps will involve significantly more testing, Davis said, something that will keep Eviation in Moses Lake for the foreseeable future.

“Moses Lake is likely to remain in our plans,” he said. “It's actually a really, really great airport to operate at.”

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherald.com.

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CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE/COLUMBIA BASIN HERALD

The battery-powered, all-electric Eviation Alice taxis down the main runway of the Grant County International Airport on Tuesday following its very first test flight, which lasted eight minutes.

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CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE/COLUMBIA BASIN HERALD

The Eviation Alice as it makes one of two loops over the Grant County International Airport during its very first test flight on Tuesday. The plane will remain on the ground for the next few weeks while engineers with AeroTEC and Eviation analyze data from the flight test.

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CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE/COLUMBIA BASIN HERALD

The Alice aircraft comes in for a landing after its first flight Tuesday morning.

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