Redefining Possibilities in Aviation with the Electric EEL Demonstrator Aircraft
by DRONELIFE Staff Writer Ian J. McNabb
Ampaire, a California-based manufacturer of hybrid electric aircraft systems, recently announced that their Eelectric EEL demonstrator aircraft completed a 12-hour flight with over two hours of flight time remaining between battery stores and fuel reserves. Ampaire believes that this impressive result is a new world record for hybrid electric flight endurance, showing the potential of its technology.
“Through this groundbreaking mission, Ampaire has shattered the conventional boundaries of electrified flight, underscoring our relentless pursuit of transformative vehicle performance and commercial utility,” said Ampaire CEO Kevin Noertker. “Our unique hybrid electric solutions deliver unparalleled operating economics and unlock endurance and operational flexibility critical to our customer’s needs. The indomitable spirit of innovation within the entire Ampaire team propels us forward on this journey toward a sustainable future. It is a testament to our lasting commitment to pioneering excellence.”
Having flown successful missions in Canada, California, Alaska and Arizona, Ampaire’s Cessna-based Electric EEL is used to demonstrate their unique AMP-H570 AMP Drive™ hybrid electric propulsion unit. The engine is also in use in their Eco Caravan (an electrically-fuelled Cessna Grand Caravan) which features fuel savings of between 50% and 70% when compared to traditional Pratt and Whitney PT6 turboprops and is currently the world’s largest electrically powered aircraft. Ampaire’s approach to advanced propulsion technology differs from many in the electric aircraft space due to their focus on retrofitting existing conventional aircraft, rather than designing their own discrete airframes, which is intended to hasten the adoption of electric technology and make cleaner air power accessible to everybody. The hybrid element of the drive unit comes from a RED compression ignition engine rated for up to 550hp, with the design’s peak power, battery, and charging system being provided by Ampaire.
Ampaire seeks FTC type certification of its Eco Caravan by 2024. More information on Ampaire and the Eelectric EEL is available here.
Ian McNabb is a staff writer based in Boston, MA. His interests include geopolitics, emerging technologies, environmental sustainability, and Boston College sports.