Ampaire Flies Largest Hybrid-Electric Plane

Los Angeles-based Ampaire unveiled its prototype electric-powered plane, the Ampaire 337, in a test flight above Camarillo Airport in California on June 6. This is the largest a hybrid-electric aircraft that has flown.

The twin-engine plane will be able to carry seven to nine passengers and boasts a range of up to 100 miles (160 kilometers). It is based on the six-seat Cessna 337 Skymaster, which was retrofitted with Ampaire’s proprietary electric propulsion system powered by a lightweight battery system.

Ganzarski, the chief executive officer of MagniX, an electric propulsion startup based in Seattle, says his company is focusing on air transportation in the 100 to 1,000-mile (160 to 1,600-kilometer) range, which accounts for 50 to 70 percent of all commercial flights.

“We believe that in the next five years ‘middle mile’ air travel will start a resurgence with flights carrying 9-15 people up to 1,000 miles — roughly San Francisco to Denver, London to Paris, or Zurich to Frankfurt — completed by electric planes,” Ganzarski told DW.

US aviation technology startup Zunum Aero with partners Boeing and JetBlue is developing an electric aircraft with a capacity of up to 50 passengers. The company started development in October 2017 of a 12-seat plane aiming to fly in 2020.

British startup Faradair hopes to certify its 18-seat plane by 2025, and US startup Wright Electric plans to design a commercial airliner capable of flying distances of up to 300 miles. Joby Aviation has spent the last decade developing its own electric motors and recently secured $100 million (€88 million) in financing to prepare for production and certification.

In Germany, Siemens, engine maker Rolls-Royce and Airbus are developing a plane called E-Fan X as a hybrid-electric airline demonstrator.

7 thoughts on “Ampaire Flies Largest Hybrid-Electric Plane”

  1. Is small passenger aircraft on busy local flights realistic? I thought many airports were running into capacity issues in terms of flights per day.

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  2. Though if the point of this aeroplane is an experiment, then a lot of the questions are answered:

    To climb faster? The addition of electric motor and extra props could make it climb faster if the system was designed for it. This would require some prototypes that didn’t quite manage to achieve this.
    To cruise further? Only if the climb faster bit worked well enough for the petrol engines to be optimized for cruising.
    To cut cruise emissions? As per previous .
    To get to destinations quicker? Nope. This is not it.
    To increase the safety of the thing? Nope. Can’t see that being a thing.
    To get better fuel economy? Maybe a bit. See answer about cruise optimisation.
    … with the above, hard to say. 
    For a quieter flight? Some. Perhaps? Quieter in the climbing part maybe if the electric engines are providing the extra power.
    To carry more passengers? Nope. Nah.
    To provide better handling? Nope.  Is this even a thing that passenger planes care about?

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  3. It’s 100% about fuel cost. If running an electric motor lets them reduce costs enough to provide short range flights at prices people will pay, it opens up a new market. That’s the idea anyway.

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  4. hello sir…im genuinely confused by your writing…im reading about several startups pouring millions into electric aircraft engine development. Now,i honestly dont know the first thing about the industry..but its certainly looking like the largest companies are racing to make it a part of their future business…space travel included…

    scott

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  5. So… Here is why HYBRID-electric-petrol aircraft are likely as stupid as rocks.  

    Take for example this airplane. ‘They’ replaced the rear motor+propeller (petrol) with a battery, electricity inverter, synchronous rare-earth multiphase motor, and a propeller to match.  

    To what end?

    To climb faster? Nope. 
    To cruise further? Nope.
    To cut cruise emissions? Nope.
    To get to destinations quicker? Nope.
    To increase the safety of the thing? Nope.
    To get better fuel economy? Maybe a bit.
    … with the above, hard to say. 
    For a quieter flight? Some.
    To carry more passengers? Nope.
    To provide better handling? Nope

    The point is that the addition of a hybrid rear pusher motor-and-prop is a STUNT, not an improvement. The battery-pack, motor, electronics, provides LESS power than the avgas engine that was replaced. It weighs at least as much as the larger fuel tankage, engine, all that. It requires additional cockpit controls — even to be the “final shipping” version.  

    It doesn’t even manage to “get back energy” whilst descending from cruise to landing, to charge the hybrid’s battery pack.  

    The ONLY reason to have a hybrid electric would be to POSITIVELY answer some (and hopefully all) of the rhetorically proffered questions, above. Until that time, not worth it.

    Just saying,
    GoatGuy ✓

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