The race to create the perfect electric aircraft is heating up and this time, it is Los Angeles based Ampaire which has claimed to achieve a new “first-ever” in the industry. On June 6, the electric aviation company conducted the test flight of the Ampaire 337, the highest-capacity hybrid-electric aircraft ever flown, over the Camarillo Airport.
Ampaire aims to lead the electrification of private aircrafts in order to bring down their emissions. For this, instead of building custom electric aircrafts, the company is retrofitting existing passenger aircrafts to make them electric. The result - quieter, greener and more easily operable flights for the passengers.
As for the test flight on June 6, the Ampaire 337 was a reworked version of the six-seat Cessna 337 Skymaster. Retrofitted with Ampaire's proprietary electric propulsion system, the aircraft was powered by a lightweight battery system. Originally a two-engine plane, the electrification process involved replacing one of the internal combustion engines with an electric motor, resulting in a parallel-hybrid propulsion system. Ampaire claims that the hybrid system results in “significant greenhouse gas emissions savings and operating cost reductions.”
With the prototype test flight having been conducted, the company is looking to enter the commercial space with its electric aircrafts by 2021. A “flight that is clean, quiet and inexpensive,” says Kevin Noertker, CEO of Ampaire.
Going forward, the company is poised to start a pilot project on a commercial route in Maui, Hawaii with a newly retrofitted Cessna 337, a pre-production prototype for Ampaire’s commercial endeavours.
For the testing phase, the company is currently focusing on the regional airlines for short haul flights. With the advancements in battery technology and motors, a similar future can easily be envisioned for even the humongous aircrafts like the commercial jetliners.