Eviation Aircraft Ltd. is speeding ahead in an arms race to be the first to put a commercially viable electric aircraft in flight. The Israel-based startup recently secured two more customers for its nine-passenger fully electric airplane named Alice. While Alice’s first flight is being delayed until early 2020, there are now more than 150 orders for Eviation’s revolutionary aircraft, according to a recent story by Bloomberg.  

Key Takeaways

  • Orders for Eviation’s electric aircraft, Alice, pass the 150 mark.
  • Airlines are attracted by Alice’s smaller carbon footprint.
  • Per flight hour, Alice is about 20% the cost of turboprop planes.
  • Eviation is looking to secure more funding for mass production.

What It Means for Investors

Both of the new customers are American and both are recognised players in the aviation industry, said Eviation’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Omer Bar-Yohay. He declined to specify the exact names of the two customers until formal announcements are made early next year.

The startup’s first commercial customer, American regional airline Cape Air, announced a “double-digit” order for Alice at the Paris Air Show back in June. Eviation is currently in talks with another potential client in Australia and Bar-Yohay has previously indicated that major U.S. carriers like United Airlines Holdings Inc. (UAL) and JetBlue Airways Corp. (JBLU) are also interested in the electric planes. 

A lot of the interest comes from airlines looking to reduce their carbon footprint, as traditional aircraft are among the largest emitters. “We see tremendous opportunities to reduce the environmental impact of our operations,” said Cape Air founder and CEO Dan Wolf in a statement released from the airshow back in June, according to Reuters.

But another huge factor is cost. Alice, which will be capable of flying 650 miles on a single charge and reach a speed of 276 mph, is expected to cost about $200 per flight hour. In comparison, a traditional turboprop plane, a plane whose turbine engine powers its propellers, costs about $1000 per flight hour, according to Bloomberg.

Looking Ahead

While Alice’s first flight is expected early next year, the plane is not likely to enter service until 2022 after being certified by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. Until then, Eviation will continue to look for customers and funding, of which it needs a further $500 million to enter serial production. Bar-Yohay indicated that the preferred route would be an initial public offering (IPO).