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Surf Air to hybridize Grand Caravan EXs

Textron Aviation has signed a purchase agreement for up to 150 Cessna Grand Caravans with Surf Air Mobility, a Los Angeles electric aviation firm. Surf Air plans to develop a hybrid electric Grand Caravan powered by Surf Air’s proprietary powertrain technology. The initial fleet order in this exclusive relationship will provide Surf Air with 100 aircraft, with an option for 50 more.

A Surf Air Mobility version of the Cessna Grand Caravan EX will feature a hybrid electric system to power a nine-seat version of the single-engine turboprop. Image courtesy of Textron Aviation.

The order is subject to Surf Air Mobility’s obtaining financing for the project. Textron said that initial deliveries are expected to begin in the second quarter of 2022. A Surf Air press release said that the hybridized aircraft are targeted to be available in 2024. The idea is to use the hybrid electric system to power a nine-seat version of the single-engine turboprop.

“Hybrid electric propulsion technology, deployed at a scale for environmental and commercial benefits, is an important part of the future of travel,” said Ron Draper, president and CEO of Textron Aviation. “This relationship with Surf Air Mobility leverages the unique performance capabilities of the Cessna Grand Caravan in both passenger and cargo operations and continues to demonstrate the aircraft’s adaptability for innovative missions and configurations.”

Surf Air said that the planned benefits of the new aircraft include a 25-percent reduction in both direct operating costs and carbon emissions; similar performance to that of the stock Cessna Grand Caravan EX “when operated in the same ways across cargo, passenger and special mission applications”; a range of 1,000-plus miles; and no requirement for charging stations. It also said that “new and existing Cessna Grand Caravan EX owners and operators are expected to have the ability to upgrade to the hybrid powertrain, converting them into hybrid electric aircraft.”

Cessna Grand Caravan EX. Images are courtesy of Textron Aviation.
Thomas A. Horne

Thomas A. Horne

AOPA Pilot Editor at Large
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Tom Horne has worked at AOPA since the early 1980s. He began flying in 1975 and has an airline transport pilot and flight instructor certificates. He’s flown everything from ultralights to Gulfstreams and ferried numerous piston airplanes across the Atlantic.
Topics: Urban Air Mobility, Experimental, Electric

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