Ampaire Ups Its Cred With An Engine Deal And A Record Flight


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.

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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  1. After reading this piece three times, I cannot tell whether this future “Cessna Grand Caravan” will be based on a Skymaster or a Caravan. The article refers to the existing Skymaster-based “demonstrator,” to a “Grand Caravan,” and to an “Eco Caravan.”
    Perhaps Mr. Phelps can clarify this basic point for me. Thanks.

    As for a 100% reduction in emissions from burning SAF, well… that’s just too silly to merit a serious comment.
    Frankly, articles like this insult our intelligence.

    • It seemed pretty clear to me that the “Eco Caravan” is a version of the Grand Caravan using the new power plant. The 337 “EEL” is a technology demonstrator and not the intended final product.

    • I’m sorry you felt insulted.
      Hopefully, Michael K clarified your first question in his comment below.
      As for your second point: aircraft operators can (and many do, voluntarily) reduce their net carbon emissions to zero through “carbon offsets,” that is, contributions, financial or otherwise, to programs and initiatives that reduce carbon emissions worldwide. If contributions are certified as reducing worldwide carbon emissions by as much or more as a given aircraft generates on a given trip, or series of trips, that equates to zero net emissions.
      General aviation has led the way in reducing carbon footprint with the goal of zero NET emissions industrywide by 2050. You may disagree with the policy, but that’s how it works.

  2. An 800 HP diesel? A Cummins in a Dodge which makes less HP than that weighs 1071 pounds.

    Am I the only one who thinks this would not be realistic in a Mixmaster?

  3. You have to understand this is a German effort, a country that is going over the cliff due to its very bad energy policies. Half my family lives there and it is sad to see this once important industrial economy in decline. Note that they don’t call their Diesel motor a Diesel, but a compression-ignition. Technically correct but done to avoid the stigma of Diesels resulted from techno-ignoramuses that abound in government and media. Diesels are the most efficient power plant imaginable and will likely be the power plant of choice for aircraft in the long run as they burn diesel or Jet-A, nearly the same fuel. As far as the Rube Goldberg hybrid contraption goes, all they are going to do is generate tons of entropy, which is already in over-abundance, thanks to bloated do-nothing bureaucracies cow-towing to enviro radicals like AOC. One fundamental question – wouldn’t that C337 have been far more efficient with a single Red Diesel engine? It has more power than the twin engines normally on the plane. Balance would probably be an issue if one engine were removed. I predict this effort will continue until government grants and money from naive investors dry up. Anyone remember the Terrafugia?

  4. I’ve been noticing a decline in AvWeb quality for a while now; since the recent editor-in-chief change to be sure. I’m not sure if there is simply nothing newsworthy going on in aviation or if AvWeb thinks it’s okay to do non-critical thinking as they write their stories. Perhaps it’s time to bring back AvWeb founder Mike Busch to save the brand.

  5. One of AVWeb problems is that they used to publish a couple of times a week and now it is daily, and there just isn’t enough av-related or of interest news, except for maybe a couple of weeks of airshows like AirVenture.
    As for the mixmaster “record” how much of the time were they flying on the gas engine alone or essentially alone?
    BTW, #2 diesel is light oil, essentially the same as fuel oil, and #1 diesel is kerosene or jet A.

  6. I think the older anti-electric aircraft powerplant crowd needs to be less spring loaded to the negative side of progress. What can you possibly misread in “will supply its A03 compression-ignition engine to power Ampaire’s Cessna Grand Caravan hybrid-electric conversion”?