In a show of confidence, Eviation Aircraft Inc. livestreamed the first flight of the first electric aircraft designed from a clean sheet to enable zero-emission passenger and cargo service.
The video documents the eight-minute maiden voyage flown by test pilot Steven Crane of the twin-motor, all-electric Alice prototype powered by magniX motors, variants of which have been retrofitted to de Havilland DHC–2 Beaver seaplanes.
The eye-catching and aerodynamic shape of this new aircraft is made with efficiency in mind, and the electric motors produced a noticeable surge when Crane released the brakes at 7:10 a.m. Pacific time September 27. Alice built speed quickly and broke ground, climbing away from the spectators and camera for a circuit that topped out at 3,500 feet before returning to make a smooth landing. The flight matched Crane's expectations, he reported in a postflight press conference.
Alice “handled just like we thought it would,” Crane said. “Very responsive, very quick to the throttles… I couldn’t be happier.”
Eviation President and CEO Gregory Davis, whose permanent appointment in those dual roles was affirmed September 16, pronounced it a day for history: “This is about changing the way that we fly, it’s about connecting communities in a sustainable way.”
The aircraft’s first flight followed announcements of future customers lining up to put the aircraft in service, the company noted in a press release. Regional carriers Cape Air and Global Crossing Airlines have placed orders for 75 and 50 aircraft, respectively.
Cape Air Founder and Board Chairman Dan Wolf noted in the release that Alice will suit the company's operations well: “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 percent of our flight operations, bringing sustainable, emission-free travel to the communities we serve.”
DHL Express has also ordered 12 aircraft. Those waiting customers expect to put Alice in service in 2027, pending FAA certification of the revolutionary airframe and powerplant.
"What's next is actually producing an airplane for the marketplace," Davis said, calling the first flight a milestone marking the “first radical change in aerospace propulsion technology” since the dawn of the jet age.