First electric ‘commuter plane’ takes maiden flight

All-electric air travel is closer to becoming a reality after the maiden voyage of a battery-powered plane was a success.

The start-up company Eviation completed the first flight of small aircraft Alice – which fits two pilots, nine passengers and their luggage, or a tonne of cargo.

On Tuesday (27 September), the plane took off from the Grant County International Airport in Washington at 7.10am, climbed 3,500ft, and returned safely about eight minutes later, the Seattle Times reported.

It has been hailed as the first all-electric plane viable for short-haul commercial journeys up to 400 miles (645 km).

For example, the plane could take off from London to fly as far as many cities in Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the rest of the UK.

Two US-based regional airlines have already ordered 125 Alice aircraft, and logistics firm DHL wants 12 of them, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.

Cape Air has reportedly placed orders for 75 aircraft. The airline’s founder and board chairman Dan Wolf said: “We currently fly more than 400 regional flights per day, connecting more than 30 cities across the United States and Caribbean.

“Alice can easily cover 80 per cent of our flight operations, bringing sustainable, emission-free travel to the communities we serve.”

After Alice’s maiden voyage, Eviation CEO Gregory Davis said in a statement: “Today we embark on the next era of aviation – we have successfully electrified the skies with the unforgettable first flight of Alice.

“People now know what affordable, clean and sustainable aviation looks and sounds like for the first time in a fixed-wing, all-electric aircraft.

“This ground-breaking milestone will lead innovation in sustainable air travel, and shape both passenger and cargo travel in the future.”

The company hopes to get its design fully approved by 2025, deliver the aircraft to buyers by 2026, and have the planes flying by 2027.

Last year, the firm unveiled the production version of its aircraft after the prototype was revealed in 2017.