Pontifications: Electric aircraft builder poised to start production near Everett

By Bryan Corliss
Jan. 18, 2021 © Leeham News
— Western Washington aviation enthusiasts may need to send out an extra Valentine this year, addressed to Alice – the nine-passenger electric aircraft being developed by Eviation.

Sometime around Valentine’s Day, mechanics should begin assembling the first production Alice at the company’s new final assembly site in Arlington (WA), about 20 miles north of Boeing’s Everett facility.

“We are literally setting it up,” said Eviation Chairman Roei Ganzarski, last week from one of the two hangars that the company has taken over at Arlington Municipal Airport, as equipment boomed in the background. “We’re putting in fixtures and furniture and paint.”

Ganzarski said his plan is to have the first production aircraft ready to start flight tests for FAA certification this summer – assuming that both Eviation and magniX, the company providing the electric motors to power the craft – are able to stand up new facilities, complete their initial hiring and get the first shipsets assembled on time.

“What an exciting year 2021 is going to be,” Ganzarski said.

A location ‘supportive of a start-up’

Eviation was born in Israel in 2015, with the goal of developing a clean-sheet electric aircraft with a range of about 500 nautical miles. The Alice will have three 375-horsepower motors spinning three aft-mounted pusher propellers, and it’s designed to compete with similarly sized, carbon-powered commuter craft like the Cessna 402 or Beechcraft King Air.

But while Israel is “a great place for innovation,” Ganzarski said, “it’s not exactly the hub of all things aerospace.”

On the other hand, Boeing’s long presence in Puget Sound made it a global aerospace hub, Ganzarski said.

“It’s the ecosystem that Boeing has created around it — all the suppliers and the academics and the technical colleges,” he said. “We really wanted to choose a location that was akin to and supportive of a start-up in aviation.”

The company considered other Washington state locations, Ganzarski said, but settled on Arlington largely because it was far enough away from Seattle’s metro core to be affordable, yet close enough to the city that Eviation could recruit from the already-considerable labor force.

Arlington’s airport also has room for flight testing operations, and it’s outside the flight paths that commercial jets take into SeaTac and Paine Field, he said.

Electric motor supplier will be nearby

Arlington also has the advantage of being very close to the new home of sister company, magniX, which is developing the motors for the Alice. MagniX was founded in Australia, but it also is moving into a not-yet-disclosed western Washington location. (Published reports in Australia say the company’s new home will be in Everett.)  

While not confirming the report, Ganzarski did say that the two companies will be close enough to one another that customers will be able to visit both sites between breakfast and lunch.

Singapore-based Clermont Group owns majority stakes in both companies, and Ganzarski is simultaneously CEO of magniX and executive chairman of Eviation.

Help Wanted

Eviation is currently hiring for a range of positions, he said. Many of them are the kinds of aerodynamics engineers and structural mechanics that you’d expect in any aircraft program.

However, the fact that the Alice will be an almost completely composite airframe with electric power systems means the company wants some specialized skills.

Attitude’s important too, Ganzarski said. “Start-ups in general are not for everyone, let alone start-ups in aviation trying to do electric propulsion.”

Eviation claims two U.S. customers have placed orders for up to 150 Alices, but the names of the buyers have not been disclosed. Cape Cod-based Cape Air was named the first commercial customer after it announced at the 2019 Paris Air Show that it had taken options on 10 or more Alices.

73 Comments on “Pontifications: Electric aircraft builder poised to start production near Everett

    • Hmm. ( from the link:)
      MTOW 6350kg
      Battery. 3600kg( 57%of MTOW)
      Payload 1134kg

      Structure : 1616kg.

      • Indeed…that’s why I posted the link.
        A cute-looking plane (will be a big hit with yups), but impractical/inefficient from an engineering point of view. Of course we already knew that batteries had an insufficient energy density to power practical civil aviation, and this plane illustrates that nicely.
        What is concerning is the fact that projects like this — together with ground-transport EVs — are eating into our limited reserves of lithium. Moreover, mining of lithium tends to extract a heavy environmental toll.

        https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Is-There-Enough-Lithium-to-Maintain-the-Growth-of-the-Lithium-Ion-Battery-M

        Next question: suppose the battery were replaced by hydrogen tanks and fuel cells, what kind of weight would we then be talking about (for similar range)? The 3600 kg battery weight is enormous.

        • We don’t already “know” what you claim, and it’s very likely to prove untrue for short-haul planes with current batteries (400–500 Wh/kg) and for medium-hauls with batteries likely in this decade.

          The lithium article you cite is misinformed (like most of this genre: see e.g. https://thebulletin.org/2017/05/clean-energy-and-rare-earths-why-not-to-worry/ for a rebuttal of similar rare-earth claims). Lithium is not scarce—it’s more abundant than, say, lead—and speculators will lose their shirts just as they did with rare earths and cobalt.

          The high lithium-battery volumes assumed in your article would come with a steady-state circular lithium economy such as JB Straubel’s Redwood Materials has devised. And solid-state electrolytes (e.g. Ionic Materials) permit very high-energy-density but safe lithium-air, lithium-sulfur, and rechargeable alkaline (MnZn, MnAl,…) batteries; the latter use nothing scarce, costly, toxic, or flammable.

          Eviation’s Alice has low drag and a lifting body. Otto Aviation’s remarkable laminarized body, wings, and empennage cut its fuel use ~8x and its operating cost ~6x, making Celera a strong candidate for electrification. These designs illustrate that a surprising fraction of civil aviation could well have a practical and profitable electric future. Dismiss it at your peril. Celera 500’s ~6x lower opex, with 4500-nm range, is ideally suited to point-t0-point route architectures, and looks set to blow up both general-aviation and airline business models.

          • Even having a composite fuselage and wing for a small aircraft was a big challenge for an existing aircraft builders like Learjet who discontinued the 85 development, same went for the Hawker 4000 which was certified but the company went bankrupt.
            Hondajet is composite fuselage only but the parent company had the resources over the long time scale to do the work.
            https://www.compositesworld.com/articles/composite-fuselage-helps-hondajet-upend-biz-jet-market
            This small company will likely run out of money during the development process. I dont think they know how difficult it is until they get some experts on board. Even the non flying mock-up caught fire in Arizona.

          • So you are saying that the Alice design makes a similar leap in aerodynamic performance to the Celera? Would be great if it does.

            I’m still astounded by the claims made for the Celera’s aerodynamics. Can’t think of another aeroplane announced during my lifetime that has caught my attention as much. Really hope it meets its claims. And completely agree about how game changing it has the potential to be.

          • Amory
            With regards to the lithium question, what are the prospects for recycling lithium-ion batteries similar to how lead-acid batteries are currently recycled? Some posit that in the short term there may not be a lithium problem, but in the long term single use batteries will result in a lithium crunch. Is anyone working on establishing recycling standards for Li-ion batteries? Is anyone working on that question? Asking for a friend. 🙂

        • I just helped commission three Lithium mines in Australia. Two are temporarily mothballed because of low Lithium demand. I would be more worried about cobolt.

        • There are ‘rare earth’ and such minerals in many places, such as northern ON and northeast PQ/Labrador. Various types of desired minerals, I forget if Li is one.

          Cost of extraction is huge because of relatively remote location. Gummints will be pressed to build highways to the sites. Though one is near ocean water, mine and initial processing may already being built, final processing near Montreal.

          Those locations are attractive because the country they are in is relatively stable, unlike Africa, CC, and much of the former USSR (the …stan countries west of CC for example).

          • Lithium is definitely not one of the rare earths with its 3 electrons.

            cost of extraction is not because they are rare or can only be found on remote locations but because all the rare earth elements look the same chemically and the ores are mixtures of different rare earth elements. So the process to separate the different elements is very difficult and costly

      • Yes, 1616kg …

        Sad that the OEW of the Celera 500L is unknown. At least it has a certified engine with great numbers.
        Alice should use that engine too.

        • High Power Piston Engines may make a comeback.

          The Celera 500L which on a 500hp piston engine promises to fly 6 passengers in a standing cabin 4500 miles at up to 450mph cruise.

          The advances electric flight needs will make conventional propulsion even more efficient when applied there.

          Consider a big V12 HCCI “Homogenous Charge Compression Ignition” engine with micro pilot ignition. as a power plant of the future. (Daimler Benz was benching DB601 engines in 1940 using this technology)

          The engine would be extremely efficient, perhaps approach 50% and clean because it avoids the pollution issues of SI and CI engines.

          Fuel could be a carbon neutral “PtL””Power to Liquids” fuel where electrical power is used to extract CO2 from the air and combine it with Hydrogen from Electrolysis and make a synthetic hydrocarbon by fischer-tropsch like processes. Already in small scale production. (Iceland using geothermal and soon Norway using hydro) Potentially 60% conversion efficiency around 45%-50% currently some other pilot plants.

          Also Toyota is investing in compressed hydrogen fuel cell technology. Consider its Mirai Car which is now in production and has a substantial refuelling infrastructure developing. Its not even cryogenic and seems to out perform batteries.

          I’m more fascinated by shorter range electric flight such as Lilium Jet and Volocopter.

  1. I’m rooting for Eviation! It’s high time to prove the nay-sayers wrong!

    Also, we need some good news in the industry!

    • Well, rooter, you should hope it is not another shop-around outfit, like the one that wanted to morph a fighter into a business/personal aircraft, it flipped around among SK, AB, and at least one location in the US. Never got anywhere.

      How deep are their pockets?

      But maybe profligate Governor Inslee will subsidize them.

  2. My experience is limited to 100+ pax aircraft design and certification… still… I am sceptical:

    We are January 2021.
    Eviation is just starting building its facility (not just moving to a new one).
    They are hiring design skills (aerodynamic, stress…)…
    I know they are in process to select suppliers for major components (landing gear…)
    No prototypes has ever flown or rolled out yet…

    Eviation anticipates certification flight with production A/C as soon as next summer? Seriously?

      • SEC: “Innovators who seek to revolutionize and disrupt an industry must tell investors the truth about what their technology can do today, not just what they hope it might do someday.”

    • Thanks.

      Hype is common, immature thinking is common.

      Think Vern Raeburn from Microsoft, who lost an engine supplier for his VLJ because fleshing out the design grew it beyond the largest engine Williams was able/willing to produce. The Eclipse 500 did go into production, unlike the one from western IA whose aerodynamics had to be refined (investors shied away at that point) and one from FL, but Raeburn was eventually shoved out of the company he founded because potential investors would not fund more with him running the outfit.

      Tom Cable of the renowned Cable and Howse VC company in the Seattle area listed as third priority in evaluating proposals ‘Can these people follow through?’ Second priority was ‘Can we trust these people?’ (First priority was simply ‘Are we interested in this type of venture?”, they were sticking to medical and software, avoiding aviation,)

      Even sincere people like Blake Scholl are taking longer than they thought to get a proof-of-concept flying (Boom supersonic). I wish him well but he’ll need to learn that aviation is not build and fail like much software, and takes very high design quality to avoid costly rework like the outfit in western IA. Boom is wisely starting with a proof-of-concept airplane.

  3. My experience is limited to 100+ pax aircraft design and certification… still… I am sceptical:

    We are January 2021.
    Eviation is just starting building its facility (not just moving to a new one).
    They are hiring design skills (aerodynamic, stress…)…
    I know they are in process to select suppliers for major components (landing gear…)
    No prototypes has ever flown or rolled out yet…

    Eviation anticipates certification flight with production A/C as soon as next summer? Seriously?
    (Not to mention all the technological challenges)…

  4. Strange design….
    Pretty but not very realistic.
    large propellers at the end of long wings mean very tall legs!
    and tall legs mean weight, cost, room in wings for bay….

    • I imagine the propellers are where they are to obtain favourable interactions with wing-tip vortexes. Rotating into them it may be possible to extract some energy from them.

      • They claim the can crab sideways through the use of rudder and differential thrust. Not a bad capability, perhaps it should be a feature of all aircraft.

  5. Lots of things seem to be wrong, bordering on impossible, with the Alice. Until proven otherwise, I’m leaving it in the same basket as the Avro Canada VZ-9 Avrocar.

    • Will join a whole list of pusher planes that had limited sucess
      Beech Starship
      Lear Fan
      Grob GF 200
      AASI Jetcruzer
      Omac Laser
      The best of all was the Piaggo Avanti which has built 220 but has struggled despite its aerodynamic advantages
      The Otto Celera copies a number of Avanti features but has a single rear V12 diesel engine and propeller

    • Yes. This is what they were saying in 2018
      ” Eviation Aircraft, a global manufacturer of all-electric air mobility solutions, today announced it has selected Prescott, Arizona for its U.S. headquarters. The site, located adjacent to the Prescott Municipal Airport, will serve as Eviation’s base of operations for its expansion from Israel into the U.S. market.”

      So now its 2021 and its Arlington WA thats its 3rd location for its ‘base’.
      Im not buying the idea that Israel isnt a good location for aerospace development, they have a remarkable track record , especially at this size of plane with the development of the Rockwell Jet Commander into IAI Westwind and later Astra and its clean sheet cousin Galaxy. Both were still built in Israel for Gulfstream as the G150 and G280 models.
      if anything they should be tapping into Learjet staff from Wichita for the composite tech and structural design. I suppose that will be the ‘4th base’

  6. Food for thought.

    P.180
    2x 630kW = 1260kW
    5489kg MTOW
    1260kW / 5489kg = 0.23kW/kg

    0.23kW/kg with the Celera 500L
    368kW / 0.23kW/kg = 1600kg MTOW
    There is a reason why Otto doesn’t mention MTOW.
    Just watch the planes which the RED-03 engine used, not six seaters.
    Yak-52 = 1305kg MTOW

  7. A useful reference for the 737 MAX, this MAX pilot describes in detail his mandatory MAX training session.

    https://www.avgeekery.com/pilot-report-my-737-max-simulator-ride/

    Notable is that he explains the roles of the Speed Trim System, MCAS, and the Elevator Feel System in the run-up to the required full stall simulation. This effectively resolves the argument that raged here at LNA over these matters.

    Here is a highly relevant passage for the MAX accidents:

    “I do not mean to denigrate the seriousness of the accidents that occurred nor the memory of those lost. Airline crashes are nightmares for all involved.

    That said, underlying causes of any accident are complex and many differing narratives develop, some with agendas of their own. Causal chains behind any accident must be considered in total. A focus upon one aspect of an accident in isolation will inevitably lead to a missed or wrong conclusion.”

    Wise words for us all, applying to many topics. In other news, the US courts rejected the Flyers Rights lawsuit against the FAA seeking to ground the MAX. And also rejected the flight attendant lawsuit against Boeing seeking compensation for the MAX grounding. The pilot union lawsuit already had been dismissed in November.

    • There is a new FlightGlobal article about the certification of the MAX in Canada and what Transport Canada is asking to improve safety.
      In honest language “improved safety” means the MAX is not safe.

        • The Canadian changes are colored caps on the stick-shaker circuit breakers, along with permission to turn them off in flight. And clarifications in training materials to make that possible. As discussed earlier here at LNA.

          Additionally Canada has issued an Interim Order that requires the MAX not be flown for any reason by pilots who have not completed the new training. This is valid for 14 days, and will be extended as required until training of all pilots is complete.

          Here is the relevant TCCA quote on MAX safety:

          “The U.S. FAA is the state of design for the Boeing aircraft, and therefore the FAA has the final say on the aircraft design for U.S. operators. Transport Canada’s decision to put additional safety measures in place does not imply that a U.S.-configured aircraft is inherently unsafe.

          In Transport Canada’s opinion, however, the additional measures to be required in Canada will provide the option for a pilot to reduce the cockpit workload in specific conditions, and also impose further clarity and emphasis on certain aspects of the pilot training syllabus.”

        • Thanks.

          TC does not communicate well.
          One media did report that red ‘collar’ on circuit breakers for stick shakers was a TC requirement above FAA requirements.

          WestJet is now flying revenue pax, Air Canada is planning for February 01, 2021.

          WestJet and I expect AC are explicit to pax that they are booked in a MAX.

          I have not checked if they are allowing centre seat to be occupied, which will turn many people away. (Pax could reroute through US airlines, driving into US to pickup flights such as in Bellingham or Everett WA requires essential purpose.)

      • ““improved safety” means the MAX is not safe.”

        No it doesnt . Not safe means they wont let it fly

        heres a list of A320 ‘improvements’ from Aug 2020 ( following on from same AD from EASA) showing its an ongoing process for all airliners
        https://simpleflying.com/faa-airbus-a320-ad/

      • -> “FAA draft directive reveals production issue on 25 737-9s that left wing leading-edge blowout doors without needed sealant. Issue seemingly fixed in early ’19 based on list of affected line nos, delivered to Copa, FlyDubai, Icelandair, United, Turkish.”

    • “Here is a highly relevant passage for the MAX accidents:”

      Here’s another such “highly relevant passage”, from an article by Bjorn Fehrm on LNA a few months ago:

      “The original MCAS design was absolutely unforgivable”.

      A chain is only as strong as its weakest link — that also applies to a chain of events. The common factor in both MAX accidents was the absolutely unforgivable design of MCAS.

      Great! Now that that’s settled, we can all get back to discussing Alice.

      • As well as the significant deviation from pilot training that occurred, in both accidents, and that contributed to both accidents. And that instigated the required mandatory training for all MAX pilots.

        Which we now understand in detail based on the pilot reporting above, as covering the events that led to the accidents, and recovery from them, using the long-established methods that have always been trained.

          • All statements were and are truthful. Posting links to outdated articles based on speculation, before the authoritative results were available, is not truthful. But expected.

            As is the continued effort to misrepresent contributing actions as blame, to discredit anyone who speaks the truth about the contributions that were in fact made. All standard responses to support the narrative and agenda that Boeing is solely to blame. And as addressed correctly & truthfully by the experienced pilot quoted above, who has actually flown the training.

            The pilot union referenced in the Guardian article has not only accepted the mandatory training, but in fact requested additional training. This is because they are responsible, and don’t want to repeat the mistakes that were made in the accidents. As is the rest of the world, except those that still cling to the anti-Boeing agenda.

          • “Yes, Rob, we are very familiar with your theories. Thanks for the recap.”

            {edited}

      • An example of Stupidity overruling reason in the name of profit and the guilty parties are still running the show.

        New Republic:
        Crash Course: How Boeing’s Managerial Revolution created the 737 MAX disaster

  8. Alice = SCAM
    Otto Celera 500L = SCAM
    Boeing 787-8, firm configuration = SCAM
    It worked. Till end of 2008 Boeing got 915 orders.
    Boeing 737 MAX, without pilot simulator training = SCAM
    It worked. How many thousand orders did Boeing get for the MAX till October 2018? Those customers who cancelled the orders, did they get any compensation?
    Boeing 777X, to be continued.

  9. “”This effectively resolves the argument that raged here at LNA over these matters.””

    LNA (Bjorn) wrote that the MAX is “nose happy”. I could post here again what Bjorn wrote (more damning) about the MAX before that.
    Obviously MCAS was needed because of regulations.
    Boeing pilots sat in pilots seats during re-cert flights. Congress damned that. What a joke.
    Some other systems which had nothing to do with the crashes need improvements to get the re-certification. How is that possible? It seems Boeing self-certified systems without following regulations. Criminal!!!
    I wouldn’t wonder if this is the last day Dickson is in power.

  10. I thought, the highest power pack density achieved so far was with Tesla Model 3 (Performance AWD) – Overall Power Pack Density: 6.01 kg/kWh (166 Wh/kg), designed and achieved with proven professionals.
    With Alice: 3,600 kg / 920 kWh = 3.91 kg/kWh ! How did they do that? If that is done with no compromises, that should be remarkable!

    • Like you said *so far* the highest EV pack specific energy (kWh is energy not power). Perhaps some scaling benefit with Eviation’s being ~10x larger. Though, 256 Wh/kg still seems oddly high.

      • I meant the energy density for the power pack (battery cells =>modules, wiring, BMS, cooling, housing, etc) rather than cell level. So, I should’ve written “Overall Power Pack ENERGY Density”

      • Several makers had achieved ~400–500 Wh/kg at cell level by 2019. Claims, probably at cell level, include 400 Wh/kg in ~2019 (C4V), 500 in 2018 and 650 in 2022 (Sion Power), 400–450 in 2020 (Solid Energy), and now 450–550 in 2023–5 (QuantumScape). Theoretical potential of Li-air is 11.7 kWh/kg, of which a modest fraction may be safely achievable—approaching JetA’s ~12 after adjusting for relative powertrain efficiencies of both. Li-air and Li-S can be safe with solid polymer electrolytes. There’s also some interesting work on large-area batteries and/or ultracapacitors that could form part of aviation skin or structure. And it would not violate physical law for an ultracapacitor to have higher energy density than liquid fuel, as at least one developer claims.

        Redwood Materials already recycles lithium batteries in significant volume and believes it can support a very-large-scale steady-state lithium equilibrium. There’s at least one other substantial player, active in India. Rechargeable alkalines will be still easier. Once there’s a sufficient inventory of afterlife auto batteries—many after their second life in stationary storage—to support the investments, large-scale battery recycling will emerge. There’s no significant question this is feasible or can prove adaptable to evolving battery chemistries.

        I don’t know if these comment threads have a moderator, but if so, I hope s/he will prevent further off-topic excursions like the MAX interruptions to the Eviation conversation.

        • Its called Pontifications, so can include other topics, but yes its a bit annoying as the Max is old news now.
          I notice you dont mention ‘aviation certified’ batteries in your compendium. Whats OK for household storage or computing devices is smaller again for vehicles and likely half that again for aviation certified

          https://www.flightglobal.com/business-aviation/the-magic-number-that-makes-electric-flight-viable/140050.article

          A little over a year ago, Elon Musk waded into a Twitter conversation about electric aviation with the remark, “FWIW, based on calcs I did 10 years ago, cross-over point for Li-ion beating kerosene is ~400 Wh/kg. High cycle batteries are just 300 Wh/kg today, but probably exceed 400 in ~5 years.” This summer, he added: “400 Wh/kg *with* high cycle life, produced in volume (not just a lab) is not far. Probably 3 to 4 years.”

          and the reality of Li-ion is thats is at a plateau
          “As Robinson detailed in a July 2020 paper for the Faraday Institution, a battery technology research group based at the Harwell hi-tech cluster near Oxford, Li-ion technology today can deliver a maximum of about 250 watt-hours per kilogramme (Wh/kg), the standard comparative measure of battery energy density. But while there is scope to boost Li-ion energy density – clearly a critical measure for aircraft, which must minimise weight – Robinson describes the technology as “reasonably well optimised” and sitting on a “plateau”, with the prospect for only incremental improvements. Moreover, those Wh/kg figures are at the cell level; that 250Wh/kg cell delivers maybe 170Wh/kg when packed into a battery with suitable casing.

          ” Li-S cells have a theoretical energy density limit of 2,700Wh/kg and have already been demonstrated at 470Wh/kg, with 500Wh/kg expected by early 2021.
          Li-S cells today degrade rapidly in use and so suffer from low cycle lifespans, but the technology bypasses Li-ion’s need for heavy, costly and environmentally damaging nickel and cobalt; sulphur is one of the most abundant elements on Earth. Li-S cells are also inherently safer, with much reduced likelihood of overheating and fire, and unlike Li-ion can be stored and shipped when fully discharged.
          Today, Li-S has two great shortcomings for aviation. One is relatively poor power per volume….

          • @ Dukeofurl

            I agree. From 2012 until now (almost 9 years), the energy density at the battery pack level for Tesla has been improved with just 15.3%. Here are the facts below:

            Tesla S Signature: (2012)
            Battery Pack Energy: 85 kWh
            Battery Pack weight: 603.3 kg (1330 lb)
            Overall Battery Pack Energy Density: 7.1 kg/kWh (140.9 W/kg)

            Tesla Model 3 Performance AWD:
            Battery Pack Energy: 79,5 kWh
            Battery Pack weight: 478 kg (1053 lb)
            Overall Battery Pack Energy Density: 6.01 kg/kWh (166 Wh/kg)

            Tesla S Signature 2012 =>Tesla Model 3 Improvement (2012 to 2020) => (7.1 – 6.01)/7.1 x 100 = 15.3%

        • Amory
          Just noticed the response. The question of re-cycling is one where battery production is being optimized for mass-production, which means that recycling is an after-thought. We are thereby building a technology and manufacturing system that may lock us into a single-use battery-types. One can address this by imposing regulatory standards or incentives which promote more readable recyclable batteries. What I was looking for was whether the technology has progressed sufficiently to be able to develop such standards.

        • Demand for Li would grow exponentially in the next 15-20 years if Europeans and Chinese are successful to sell electric vehicles to the masses.

          Recycling Li from what we currently use is just a drop in the bucket.

          I would wait to see if any of those mentioned above comes to the market, and at what price.

        • @ Amory
          Regarding the MAX excursion, I agree with you entirely — a most regrettable deviation from the current topic.
          However, when there’s a sudden, out-of-the-blue interjection of the old, poisonous “pilot blaming” narrative, one can argue that common decency requires that at least some sort of gesture be made to smother it.

          • The issue of pilot contributions to the MAX accidents, has not been smothered, in fact has been integrated into the solutions implemented for the MAX. Also as confirmed by pilot acceptance, and descriptions of the solution as provided above.

            The smothering is as imaginary as the narrative itself. And as the smothering of vaccines, which also has not occurred except in the imaginations of the authors. And the smothering of Boeing, which is equally imaginary. But these imaginings will always be put forth here, so need to be refuted when and as the facts don’t support them.

        • @Nikola gotcha

          @Amory good points, though 11.7 kWh/kg for Li-air is only partially true. That’s in the charged state – it’s 3.5 kWh/kg for Li-air in the discharged state. Something that’s somewhat glossed over with electric aircraft is that they always land fully fueled. With mass gaining batteries, they land more than fully fueled – bulky landing gear and long runways.

    • Tesla pack density is designed on price and longevity. Weight is simply not that important in a car. You could easily safe 5% of weight using a much lighter but much more expensive structure. A few % by using much more expensive but a little lighter chemicals and 10% by giving up longevity for weight.
      Also cars don’t need a reserve. Aircraft do. But that reserve, or at least part of it should never be used except in a real emergency (lets call that part the emergency reserve). Lithium batteries are not charge to 100% or drained to 0% because that will make them have a very short life. But an aircraft battery could (i would even say should) be drained to 0%. This would be part of the emergency reserve and lead to many heated calls to the insurance company and happy mechanics.

    • Two basic methods to improve pack energy to mass.

      1: Remove parasitic mass, e.g. connectors, cooling and structure.

      2: Improve energy density.

      The Tesla Model 3 battery is far from the bleeding edge in terms of reduction of parasitic mass. It is a volume car product where cost optimises ahead of mass. Formula E batteries and other UAV batteries have done better in this regard.

      In terms of battery energy density I suspect that they have been reliant on the general progress in battery energy density which is around 5% compound.

      This isn’t crazy wishful thinking, you will fail in the electric plane business if you design for what batteries are available at your preliminary design stage. If the eventual energy density isn’t great enough you just end up temporary producing a plane with reduced range which you later retrofit.

      First off the line airliners are normally overweight and first off the line turbofans normally don’t hit fuel burn.

      The Tesla “coke can” battery is around 350Wh/kg which even when packaged would allow energy densities sufficient for Eviation application and then some.

      At the moment Eviation is intending to use pouch cells however it would not surprise me is as part of their redesign that they change to something more along the lines of Tesla’s structural battery. Especially as all the other OEM’s are working on something similar.

      • Some nice graphs of progress in cell vs pack density just came out in Nature Energy, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41560-020-00757-7.

        I appreciate your reference to the Tesla “coke can”. Anyone who missed the important Sep 2020 Battery Day presentation (slides and video on Tesla website) should study them. Sandy Munro has also posted some valuable YouTube commentary on packaging implications. Anyone who thinks such whole-system redesign is irrelevant to aviation isn’t paying attention.

        Lithium-battery safety is well understood but not always applied (recall Boeing’s dismaying 787 missteps by not asking Tesla, which used a simple geometric precaution against thermal runaway; I don’t know whether Eviation’s ground fire was caused by an analogous or a different mistake). It is also about the flammable electrolyte (traditionally akin to kerosene) as much as the lithium chemistry. As I mentioned, a solid polymer electrolyte, e.g. Ionic Materials’, can make Li-air and Li-S safe.

        • Eviation’s own argument was that the fire was due to ground equipment rather than representing flight hardware.

          The pouch cells that Eviation use are certainly not ideal in terms of stopping thermal runaway.

          The interesting point around solid state are that it is likely that they won’t have an energy density advantage Vs evolutionary Li-ion when they get to market. The argument for fire safety is likely more important.

          However this needs to be kept in context that a battery is much less likely to catch fire than liquid fuels. See Tesla.

      • Aviation is a rather mature industry.
        P&W bet $10 billion in its GTF program. RR’s Trent engine program almost bankrupted the company (after a series of wrong bets). It have to take a emergency raise of $6.5 billion.

        It’s easy for some startup to bet for ‘disruption’ technology, are their customers ready to pick up the pieces and foot the bill???

  11. Current Li-ion batteries are already prone to overheating/fire, and that risk only increases with increasing energy density. Overheating is not something that combines well with aviation: the prototype Alice already burned out in Jan. last year (“…the fire broke out in an under-floor battery compartment located in the “operator/passenger area”).

    57% of MTOW is battery…and, for that, you still only fly 1000km at 440kmh. The charging time is 70 minutes, which puts restrictions on a fast turnaround (Ryanair turns a 737-800 around in 25 mins).
    This is not the future of commercial aviation — Bjorn Fehrm did a whole series here on why battery-powered aviation was a non-starter.

  12. Pingback: MagniX moves electric aircraft engine production to new 40K square-foot headquarters north of Seattle – stips

  13. I think this program should be financed by public funding (is it?). The market viability for large scale production, operations seems not very high.

    Range, capacity, turn around time, wingtip powered stability & ground strikes, costs, will be hard to market in a world with thousands of more capable, affordable aircraft available.

    But the overall public value of learning by doing, pushing boundaries, innovating, solving, certifying could be high. If you have public financing it is easier to continue, progress and share the resulting knowledge & experience with relevant industries.

  14. And for those keen on government projects, here’s one that is perhaps worse than average but illustrates lack of adequate fact-finding both physical and botanical: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanganyika_groundnut_scheme

    (‘groundnut’ is like a peanut)

    Ground far more difficult to clear for crops than expected, climate not suitable (whereas it is elsewhere in Africa).

    With bureaucrats: “Eventually, in the wooded Southern Province, they discovered that a long chain linked between two bulldozers would flatten all the trees in between, while a third bulldozer was used to overturn any trees that resisted the chain. The first order for a suitable ship’s anchor chain from London was, however, cancelled by the managers in London because they thought it was a joke”

  15. Is your logic
    – a government project was stupid
    – Eviation is not a government project
    – therefore all government projects are stupid
    ?
    You lost me on a curve somewhere.

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