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.