Company Plans To Electrify Amphibs


A Florida company says it plans to electrify two iconic amphibious flying boat designs to create efficient and versatile regional commuter planes. Maxwell Aircraft, of Bartow, Florida, says it will develop electrified versions of the Lake Renegade/Seawolf and the Gweduck, a carbon fiber take on Grumman amphibs that’s between a Widgeon and a Goose in size. The company says that without the high energy demand of vertical takeoffs and landings in eVTOLs, the electric amphibs will offer greater range (up to 170 miles with a 30-mile reserve) with cruise speeds of up to 135 knots.

The Gweduck remake, known as the M1, will first be offered as a kit with two 300-horsepower motors and reversible props for dock handling. It will carry a payload of 800 pounds up to 170 miles at 135 knots and is intended to take advantage of the low cost and convenience of coastal city harbors to deliver passengers downtown to downtown. It will first be sold as a kit, and then the company hopes to build a certified version. The E Lake will go 110 miles and carry a payload of 550 pounds. It will have a 285-horsepower motor. More details, including pricing, will be available later this year.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. Is it April 1st? … or am I hallucinating at this early hour?

    Gee … a range of 170 miles cruising at 135 knots … that’s just over an hour endurance plus their claimed reserve for their Gwenduck twin … and I have to build it. How much of the payload is eaten by carrying heavy batteries around? And their eLake can go 11O miles. WOW! It’ll take him a month to get to Minnesota from Bartow and I hope he has power at his cabin? They may want to talk to NASA Armstrong who finally threw in the towel on their X-57 Maxwell after years of work and many millions of dollars wasted. The Icon A5 was way too expensive — after years of hype — and finally failed. And that was with a super developed Rotax engine. Beyond that … I’ve never heard of this Company. What are their qualifications to be making such outlandish claims? Methinks this is another way to part investors from their money aka Vaporware.

    What have these people been smoking? This infatuation with everything ‘e’ has gone far enough. Oh well … maybe they’ll paint them green and save the planet with them?

    • I was just worried about corrosion in a salt water environment as a reason not to do this.

      • Check out the linked Kitplanes article – corrosion is NOT an issue for the Gweduck.

        Of course, that doesn’t apply to the E-Lake.

    • The batteries will be part of the empty weight, and will take nothing away from payload. A full battery weighs the same as an empty battery. Someday, when battery tech advances to the point where an EAV can fly 400+ nm legs with IFR reserves and an acceptable recharge time, we’ll look back at the Lycoming and Continental era with fond nostalgia and a sense of relief that we’re no longer ferrying around hundreds of pounds of flammable hydrocarbons.

      • With corrosion and vibration comes electrical shorting and fire.
        Given a choice for safety, I would rather ferry around diesel for long seaplane flights. On course, passenger carrying seaplanes themselves are nearly extinct and more nostalgia than reality these days.

    • The X-57 project was shelved due to time and budget constraints, not due to unsolvable technical issues. More specifically, they found a potential failure mode in the specific motors they were using – and they didn’t have the funding or time for the re-engineering, testing, etc.

      Also, bear in mind that the X-57 was intended to demonstrate the use of distributed power by using many small motors along the wing – an application where electric power systems excel.

      • The X-57 debacle — along with its X-59 shameful waste of $636M of taxpayer’s money … nearly a BILLION! bucks in total — are a particularly major pet peeve of mine. I lived on and served at Edwards AFB for 15 1/2 years + 12 more after and saw what NASA Dryden cum Armstrong could do as far back as 1972. NOW, it appears to me that wasting money is their prime product.
        I partially agree with your statement BUT … I went to the X-57 forum at Airventure 2023 and listened to the (Johnny cum lately) Project Manager spin the tale until I couldn’t take it anymore. I unloaded on him and he knew he wasn’t gonna get by with a dog and pony show. You shoulda heard him stammer and stutter. Yes, time and money DID play a part but insurmountable technical issues with the motor controllers were likewise a major issue. Finally, someone up higher realized enough was enough and pulled the plug on it.

        So tell me, Rush … If you were having a home built and the builder kept stretching the schedule out, telling you he needs more money and STILL can’t figure out how to make the air conditiner work for you … what’re you gonna do … keep spending more money and time only to figure out there may be an insurmountable issue at the end? And what if … at the end … you couldn’t live in the house you’d say what you said above, still? I think not. The U.S. is rapidly turning into a 3rd world country over massive spending of money it doesn’t have. ANY research IS valuable but ought to be limited and monitored. THAT is why I keep harping on these two DUMB AS DIRT NASA programs!

        Even NASA’s IG had issues with it:

        In part: “NASA underestimated the complexity and difficulty of integrating a one-of-a-kind experimental subsystem in an aircraft. X-57 used subsystems developed by new industry companies, which
        encountered several design issues and integration challenges, thereby delaying the schedule and increasing costs beyond the baseline.”

      • From the above link:

        “The OIG has consistently reported on NASA’s challenge in meeting cost and schedule commitments in its space flight projects and, in 2012, attributed these challenges in part to the Agency’s penchant towards over-optimism. We found the same sense of optimism and its resulting negative effects on cost and schedule estimates in NASA’s aircraft research and development efforts.”

        And somehow some knuckleheads no one has ever heard of before are gonna do better on an even more limited budget … GIVE ME A BREAK, boys!

  2. Well, Larry S, 121 years ago a powered flight of 120 or so feet was considered an amazing feat. Now we’re flying remote controlled helicopters on Mars and boarding G800s to fly nonstop to Beijing from New York. All this happened because of research, trial and error and innovation. People haven’t been smoking; they’ve been dreaming and doing, rather than sitting in front of a computer screen and “methinking.”

    • Well put, Alan. For some people, anything new or out of the ordinary is a waste of time and resources. Thankfully those people are the minority.

    • Alan, what makes you think electric power is innovation?
      It’s been around longer that liquid fuel vehicles. Point is that 1n 121 years of advancements, electric is still a poor choice for passenger carrying aircraft. Hell, even the Wright Brothers did not go with electric or steam or compressed air to get airplanes flying.

      • …perhaps electric is “still” a “poor choice” for aircraft, but if enough research is done that won’t be the case forever. And, whether you or the naysayers like it, there is just so much dead dinosaur goo we can suck out of the planet and burn, and sooner or later we’ll have to find a way to do what the goo do, cleanly and permanently. Perhaps one day the larrys of the world will stop saying “it can’t” after finding a way to say “we did.”

        • 40 years and the FAA still has leaded fuel, so I wager that a transition to electric passenger flight will be a ways off.

    • Stupid old days with news written in past tense and innovation meaning coming up with something that works.

    • I figured some ‘open minded folks’ would show up and say that. Tell ya what … you two guys invest YOUR $$ and put down YOUR deposit and then report back after you’ve been flying YOUR Maxwell contraptions for a few years. At that point, I STILL won’t buy one and I’ll laugh at ’em. You’re proof positive of what PT Barnum said, sadly.
      Electric cars WERE introduced early on and were overrun by gas fueled and diesel fueled vehicles for good reason. And if current range anxiety is an issue with ground vehicles, I cannot even imagine the issue with an eAirplane. I’d have a nervous breakdown before I walked out to the thing.
      Tell ya what … let’s wager $25 that in five years, neither of these two airplanes will have flown AND no one will remember ’em. They’ll be in the same dust bin that George Bye’s nutty ideas are. Beyond that, what sort of marketing analysis did these crazy people do? Likely … none? ME … I see myself as a realist. If you wanna be dreamers … knock yourselves out. Right now, I gotta run down to my dock to see if the ocean has eaten it yet … I hear the oceans are gonna rise and do that … from the climate change loonies.

  3. There is a sucker (investor) born every day, I suppose. So far, only the Photoshopped version is flying. Good luck with this effort, as long as not a penny of tax dollars are involved.

    • Almost everything has a positive side to it. Those “suckers” may lose money but the idea that caused them to invest gains traction.

      Best real life example I can think of is Cancer research. Why is the progression towards a cure with childhood cancer so much faster and further ahead than adult cancer?
      Because parents are much more open minded and likely to try an experimental protocol when it is a possible shot for their child. Most of us become more closed minded as we age.

      There are so many different directions that aircraft propulsion can go in the future. Hydrogen, cold fusion, battery, and others.

      • We already have “the cure” for needing passenger carrying aircraft. If we had the cure for cancer then why would you invest into more expensive and less effective treatments?

  4. The real test of electric aircraft is whether the market will accept them. Unless they can compete with known technology, such as fossil fueled conventional engines, demonstrating better performance with lower lifecycle costs, why would any business or individual (other than a hobbyist) buy them?

    • Precisely what I was thinking this morning, Tiger. We know the answer … these guy were sitting around a bar somewhere and thinking … “Hey, we could claim we’re gonna invent the next greatest seaplane and make a lot of money from the dreamers.”
      This article is SO outlandish that it practically defies logic! If NASA couldn’t do it, these guys WON’T do it.

  5. Let’s do some basic calculations. 1.5 hours at 50% power consumes approx. 330 kWh of energy. In terms of battery life, a 20-80% charge level would require a 550 kWh battery. It would weigh about 6,000 lbs. When adding the weight of the aircraft and the cargo, is 600 horsepower enough to take off from the water and is 50 percent cruise enough? In addition, there is much more to consider. Something doesn’t add up now. But maybe a lot of “trial and error” will help here too.

    • Great point, Mikko … now lets just look at the batteries in a Tesla for a point of reference:

      A Tesla model Y battery takes up all of the space under the passenger compartment of the car. To manufacture it you need:
      –12 tons of rock for Lithium (can also be extracted from sea water)
      — 5 tons of cobalt minerals (Most cobalt is made as a byproduct of processing copper and nickel ores. It is the most difficult and expensive material to obtain for a battery.)
      — 3 tons nickel ore
      — 12 tons of copper ore
      You must move 250 tons of soil to obtain:
      — 26.5 pounds of Lithium
      — 30 pounds of nickel
      — 48.5 pounds of manganese
      — 15 pounds of cobalt
      To manufacture the battery also requires:
      — 441 pounds of aluminum, steel and/or plastic
      — 112 pounds of graphite
      The Caterpillar 994A is used to move the earth to obtain the minerals needed for this battery. The Caterpillar consumes 264 gallons of diesel in 12 hours.
      The bulk of necessary minerals for manufacturing the batteries come from China or Africa. Much of the labor in Africa is done by children. When you buy an electric car, China profits most.
      The 2021 Tesla Model Y OEM battery (the cheapest Tesla battery) is currently for sale on the Internet for $4,999 not including shipping or installation. The battery weighs 1,000 pounds (you can imagine the shipping cost). The cost of Tesla batteries are:
      Model 3 — $14,000+ (Car MSRP $38,990)
      Model Y — $5,000–$5,500 (Car MSRP $47,740)
      Model S — $13,000–$20,000 (Car MSRP $74,990)
      Model X — $13,000+ (Car MSRP $79,990)
      It takes 7 years for an electric car to reach net-zero CO2. The life expectancy of the battery is 10 years (average). Only in the last 3 years do you start to reduce your carbon footprint, but then the batteries must be replaced and you lose all gains made.
      Finally, the amount of energy required to process the raw materials and the amount of energy used to haul these batteries to the U.S. sometimes back and forth a couple of times.

      Now extrapolate for the higher HP eAirplanes …

      • Good summary Larry S. If and when it is stated that climate change has so far been caused by the influence of the sun, water vapour, changes in the earth’s orbit and unknown factors, and human activities will not be of any importance in the future, then these net zero lunatics are comparable to the worst class of environmental criminals. Their place is behind bars, but at least for now the mainstream media is in league with them.

  6. Also, Mikko, those numbers refer to a new battery in standard conditions. Add in cold weather the range can be reduced as much as half, and the battery degrades each time it is refilled.

  7. Ok for the sake of argument your ICE amphibious for whatever reason doesn’t have the fuel to make it back to base.

    Your pals load up a few barrels of avgas and come to rescue you.

    So how are you going to get your EV amphibious back to base?

    I seriously doubt this EV amphibious is going to work with your Honda Genset you keep in your garage for the next power outage.

    • Why do you doubt that? You don’t have to operate off the generator; you’d be charging the battery. It may take a while, but a few gallons of gas will run the jenny for quite a while.

  8. Seems that every time an article appears about electric flight that we get this storm of derision from people positive that it will never happen. I often wonder what it would have been like if the internet was around in the early 1900s when the Wright brothers, Glenn Curtis and Sam Langley were trying to get heavier than air craft off the ground (sorry, pun intended). There were plenty of newspaper articles and editorials saying these delusional people were attempting the impossible, so I can imagine the firestorm that would have ensued on the internet. I admit to my own skepticism about whether battery power will ever rise to the level needed for long-range air travel. Drive motors and controls are already well developed and ready for use, but batteries remain the weak link in the chain. But, having said that, I wish these guys the best of luck. As for investors, let them do with their money as they choose. Some people gamble in casinos, some as venture capitalists. Both have similar odds of payback. We are only about a decade into the electrification of vehicles. Remember what airplanes looked like before WWI?

    • In fact, nothing has changed since the Wright brothers – the mainstream media continues to spread disinformation. If the brothers had then subscribed to a trade magazine, it would have read that it is pointless to try to fly with battery power. Instead, a light fossil-fueled combustion engine would be the right way forward. Well, the brothers did notice it after a few years of tests and industrial espionage.

      More recently, accident investigators have discovered that an airplane must not be overweight, but the tank must not be empty either to carry out a safe flight.

  9. The Maxwell Aircraft website doesn’t mention how long it will take to recharge the batteries of either model, what kind of specialized charging equipment is needed or what cold weather does to reducing battery capacity. These are all major disadvantages of today’s electric cars. Hybrid autogas/electric makes the most sense to me at this stage of battery technology. Can’t argue that electric motors are much more efficient in converting electricity to propeller movement than internal combustion engines converting petroleum fuel to propeller movement. So why not uncouple the gas engine from the propeller and let it charge a smaller bank of batteries while the efficient electric motor drives the propeller. Several major manufacturers such as Airbus and Rolls Royce are exploring this route. Make the battery module, controller and gas powered generator replaceable as battery technology evolves. Use an unleaded autogas-powered generator so it can refill at any marina.

  10. The people at Maxwell Aircraft would do well to looking at this five minute video produced by Kirk Hawkins, CEO of Icon A5 fame. Here’s a guy who had the education and flight experience and moxy and help and investors and great idea and a business and marketing plan / timing (with institution of the Light Sport rules) and STILL couldn’t make it work after around 15 years of efforts.

  11. It is interesting watching electric aircraft development. Looks to me like batteries have to get an order of magnitude better. I quick calculation to convert my 4 seat 200 mph Cozy canard to electric I figured if I stole the motor and part of the battery out of my Tesla to replace the Lycoming my range would only be ~ 175 mi. w/o reserve instead of 1400 mi. with reserve, and it would become a 2 seat airplane.

  12. By their own admission, battery manufacturers acknowledge that while their batteries are getting BETTER, they are not viable YET.

    Instead of wasting pixels for promotion of a product not yet viable, (and the time of readers)–how about a moratorium on the battery “cheerleading” until there actually IS a viable product?

    Many have spoken of the loss of Bertorelli–but at least he gave context to the story–both pro and con. It was a quality that made AvWeb a good read.

  13. It still is but there needs to be a creditable understanding of the difference between pixie dust and reality. You may well be able to get airborne with electric power for a short period measured in minutes just as an explosive charge can accomplish the same and then what have you got? Most of this is no better than a publicity stunt designed to attract OPM. I think most folks here are happy to see technology progress and look forward to cleaner, reliable propulsion that might eventually be affordable but this epidemic of dreamscape optimism is just that. We all want good, reliable, consistent power and one day that may occur. Electrics are not on the same development/ improvement curve as computers. When condominium managers are telling tenants not to plug in their ebicycles overnight and car companies advise their owners not to park their EV’s in garage while charging overnight it begins to highlight some societal issues that must be faced and understood with this “emerging” technology. There are significant downsides and really significant fire hazards involved. To extract high power from a stored electrical device means a lot of heat will be generated and that needs to be dealt with/ dissipated/ controlled safely. Perhaps epower for aircraft is the wrong avenue to pursue which probably flies in the face of what is politically palatable.