Ampaire announced during AirVenture that Germany-based RED Aircraft will supply its A03 compression-ignition engine to power Ampaire’s Cessna Grand Caravan hybrid-electric conversion. That announcement came on the heels of the 1,633-NM record flight of Ampaire’s hybrid-electric EEL demonstrator—a converted Cessna 337—from Camarillo, California, to the AirVenture site at Wittman Regional Airport, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, on July 22.
The A03 engine, certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) the week before AirVenture, is rated at 550 HP. RED Aircraft CEO Jurgen Schwarz said the same engine core could ultimately accommodate versions up to 800 HP and all versions are able to operate on sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Ampaire and RED Aircraft signed a memorandum of understanding on July 25 to jointly brand the modified aircraft as the Eco Caravan.
While today’s most advanced version of Cessna’s Grand Caravan seats up to 13 passengers and has a useful load of 3,692 pounds and a range of 962 nautical miles, the Eco Caravan is projected to seat 11 passengers (or carry 2,500 pounds of cargo) on flights of up to 1,100 NM.
Ed Lovelace, chief technical officer at Ampaire cited a 50 to 70 percent reduction in fuel burn with the Eco Caravan, corresponding to an estimated 20 to 40 percent reduction in operating cost. He said using SAF would result in a net 100 percent reduction in emissions.
The hybrid-electric EEL’s record flight included an initial nonstop segment of 986 NM on July 21 from Camarillo to Hays, Kansas. The previous record for a nonstop flight was 480 NM in the U.K. Ampaire test pilot Elliot Seguin completed the 574-NM final leg to Oshkosh the next day. The EEL, based on the “push-pull” centerline thrust Cessna 337 twin, is classed a “parallel hybrid” since it flies with one conventional piston engine and a second electric-motor-driven powerplant.