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Why one company says it's 'shattered the conventional boundaries of electrified flight' with its latest testing: '[A] groundbreaking mission'

"Electric aviation is still in its infancy."

"Electric aviation is still in its infancy."

Photo Credit: Ampaire

A hybrid electric plane is believed to have set a new record for hybrid aircraft endurance during its flight over California this past December. 

The Electric EEL from Ampaire, an aircraft systems company, covered 1,375 miles and flew for a total of 12 hours, with more than 2 hours of fuel and battery reserves remaining after its flight. 

The EEL's endurance flight bookends a year of successful missions for Ampaire, an enterprise on the cutting edge of electrifying planes. According to Our World In Data, in 2018, aviation was responsible for 1.04 billion tons of carbon pollution, with a 4-5% growth each year since 2010.

While we have employed many possible solutions for lowering carbon pollution in our power and ground transportation — nuclear energy technology and electric cars chief among them — planes are particularly difficult to decarbonize. 

But according to Ampaire, its hybrid electric technology can lower fuel use by 90%, as well as maintenance by 50% and noise by 60%. As they continue to refine and optimize their technology, Ampaire officials envision a future where communities are free of aviation-related pollution and noise, and flights are more frequent and affordable for all. 

The company uses hybrid propulsion in its aircraft, which combines an electric motor and an engine, similar to road vehicles like the Toyota Prius. The improvements to the aircraft's efficiency and fuel consumption come from both a more efficient engine and power sharing between the engine and electric motor.

The hybrid model also results in a lighter aircraft design than if it were purely battery-operated, requiring less power overall. 

According to Ampaire, the EEL is a retrofitted Cessna 337 Skymaster and demonstrated a 50-70% reduction in fuel consumption and pollution compared to a traditional model, along with projected maintenance savings of 25-50%. 

"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.

Electric aviation is still in its infancy, according to Ampaire. But after a year of favorable missions traversing Canada, Alaska, Arizona, and California, the company has faith in a future of revolutionary electric aviation.

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