A few days after the maiden flight of its hybrid aircraft based on a Cessna 337, Ampaire announces its first order. Personal Airline Exchange (PAX) has ordered 50 of the converted parallel hybrid aircraft, with an option for 50 more.
After its maiden flight on 6 June, Ampaire had set its sights on commercial operation over the next two years. PAX is a service that arranges flights between passengers and charter companies – mostly from regional airports away from major hubs. For PAX, the main focus of the contract was on the targeted fuel and cost savings.
“PAX modelled the types of flights that have the highest value from time savings and convenience perspective to our customers,” PAX CEO Mike Azzarello told the Avionics portal. “As we looked at aircraft to fit the profile, the Electric EEL provides speed, passenger seats and range with lower operating costs compared to currently available aircraft.”.
Measured in dollars per seat and flight hour, the operating costs are between one-third and one-half of other comparable models. For his calculation, PAX used the Cirrus SR22, Diamond DA62 and Pilatus PC-12 for comparison. Azzarello believes that he can offer flights with the Ampaire 337 for a price of one dollar per seat per mile.
The machine is based on a Cessna 337 Skymaster, but the engine has been heavily modified. The battery-powered electric motor replaces a combustion engine of the aircraft’s original twin-engine configuration. The resulting system is a “parallel hybrid”, i.e. the combustion engine and electric motor work together to optimize power output in flight. In the hybrid configuration, the aircraft should reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce operating costs.
Since the Ampaire 337 is a retrofitted Cessna, Azzarello says it expects certification to be faster than for a completely new aircraft type.
Clean aviation is no longer just being driven by smaller companies like Ampaire. Seven leading aviation companies, including Airbus and Boeing, have jointly declared their commitment to significantly reduce CO2 emissions from aviation. According to the declaration, this should include “supporting the marketing of sustainable alternative aviation fuels”, but also “developing radically new aircraft and engine technologies”. However, no concrete projects or prototypes were announced.