Since then, Ampaire has achieved several milestones, successfully putting not one but two EEL aircraft in the air. One of them operates as a testbed for the Department of Energy’s ARPA-E advanced programs unit, while the other is being used as the company’s market survey demonstrator.
Ampaire has been working on a Cessna Grand Caravan equipped with a hybrid-electric propulsion system as well. The modified aircraft, dubbed the Eco Caravan, is based on the technology and heritage of the Electric EEL and was designed to reduce emissions and make current fleets cost-efficient.
Compared to the fuel burned by the original turbine-powered Grand Caravan, the company says that its Eco Caravan can provide game-changing fuel savings of up to 70 percent on short-haul routes and more than 50 percent on long-haul flights. Furthermore, if it uses sustainable aviation fuel, it is possible to reduce emissions by up to 90 percent.
Ampaire is currently seeking approval from FAA to have the Eco Caravan certified. The company hopes its upgraded aircraft will enter service by 2024. It’s still a long way to go, but the successful ground tests are a major step that’s getting Ampaire one step closer to achieving its goals.
“Powering up a new propulsion system, one that is fully integrated into a flyable aircraft, is a tremendously exciting milestone for Ampaire,” said CEO and co-founder Kevin Noertker.
“We expect the Eco Caravan to be the first in a series of hybrid electric upgrades for a number of aircraft models that will transform the industry by lowering emissions and costs.”
Once ground testing is complete, the next step for the Eco Caravan is to soar to the skies. Its maiden flight is expected to take place later this year.