US Based Ampaire is on a mission to become the world’s most trusted developer of practical, compelling electric aircraft. It has positioned itself in the here-and-now, with a focus on doing what’s possible today while planning for tomorrow.
Formed in 2016 with headquarters in Los Angeles, Ampaire is upgrading existing passenger aircraft, including the Cessna Grand Caravan, to hybrid-electric power. The company says it is following this path because it’s “the quickest, most efficient approach to making commercial electric travel a reality with available technology.” Once that mountain is scaled, it intends to offer upgraded and all-new hybrid-electric and fully electric aircraft, scalable up to large regional airplanes.
Ampaire has demonstrated its hybrid-electric EEL in the US, the UK, and over Maui in Hawaii. Photo: Empire
The longest nonstop hybrid-electric flight ever
On Friday, Ampaire’s hybrid-electric EEL demonstrator aircraft completed a 1,880 statute mile (3,025 km) trip from Los Angeles to Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Ampaire says the trip “included the single longest nonstop flight ever made by a hybrid-electric aircraft – 1,135 miles.” The EEL is in Oshkosh for the 2022 EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, which is organized by the Experimental Aircraft Association, where it will be on display at the Boeing Plaza.
The trip started on Wednesday from California’s Camarillo Airport with a short 85-mile repositioning flight, before resuming on Thursday with the 1,135-mile sector to Hays Airport in Kansas. Ampaire test pilot Elliot Seguin was flying the EEL and he completed the trip with the 660-mile sector to Oshkosh Wittman Regional Airport (OSH) on Friday. The EEL is a parallel hybrid, with one conventional combustion engine and an independent electric drivetrain, which Ampaire describes as an optimum hybrid electric aircraft. In its announcement, Ampaire says the EEL demonstrated fuel savings of up to 40% versus a standard Cessna Skymaster, the aircraft on which it is based.
The Eco Caravan is attracting interest and orders
Ampaire is targeting 2024 for certification and entry-into-service for the Eco Caravan.Photo: Ampaire
SVP of global partnerships Susan Ying said that by the time the EEL returns to California it will have flown more miles than any hybrid-electric aircraft. It will have clocked up more than 15,000 miles, including demonstration flights in Hawaii and the UK. Ying adds the aircraft is flying with great reliability which shows the ‘workhorse’ nature of hybrid-electric aircraft.
“We are taking the technology and expertise with the electrical EEL and applying it to our first commercial product developed, the hybrid-electric nine-seat Eco Caravan regional aircraft that will make its first flight later this year. That aircraft will demonstrate fuel savings of up to 70% and emissions reductions of up to 100% when using sustainable aviation fuel.”
Since the maiden flight of the Electric EEL technology testbed aircraft in 2019, Ampaire has notched up a number of industry firsts. The EEL has flown nonstop from Los Angeles to San Francisco and the length of the United Kingdom. In April this year, it began ground power runs of its Eco Caravan hybrid-electric upgrade of the Cessna Grand Caravan, which it expects to certify and introduce into service in 2024.
Also last week, Ampaire announced that charter airline WingTips, which operates flights across the southwestern states of California, Nevada and Arizona, had placed an order for five Eco Caravans. WingTips says it will use the Eco Caravans to close the cost gap compared to driving in a sustainable way, while significantly reducing travel times.
For those going to Oshkosh, please tell us what you think of the EEL.