Alaska Carrier Going Electric


An Alaskan airline says its rebirth will involve embracing electric short takeoff and landing aircraft to serve the far-flung communities of the rugged state. Ravn Alaska has been flying for 70 years and has flown dozens of different aircraft types over the years, most recently Dash-8s. It serves more than 100 communities, many of which have short unimproved strips. The company, which is coming back from a 2020 bankruptcy, announced last week it will buy 50 Airflow electric aircraft to fill its future needs.

Airflow platforms differ from a lot of electric offerings in that they are designed to fit into the existing aviation system. The planes can be configured for pure electric, hybrid and hydrogen power and fly conventionally. “With Airflow, we benefit from the new capabilities the aircraft offers that open up new and different destinations, the constantly improving efficiencies of electrification, and alignment between our fleet and the rising demands of our customers to travel with the smallest carbon footprint possible,” said Ravn CEO Rob McKinney.

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.

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  1. Airflow’s most recent blog post – in January- says they will start to modify a Cessna 210 for their first full scale demonstrator. The aircraft shown seems to exist only as an Adobe Illustrator drawing. Entry into service in 2025 seems optimistic, but I guess you need a goal. Fortunately distances are short in Alaska 🙄

    • A goal? The primary goal in business is to stay in business. In Alaska people deal in reality, practicality and duct tape. Forgive me for not buying Ravn stock.

  2. More “Vaporware.”

    The reason that aircraft are NECESSARY in Canada and Alaska is the LACK OF ROADS TO REMOTE AREAS. Most remote airstrips ALSO don’t have ELECTRICITY. It’s hard to fly a trip 150 miles into the bush and BACK–300 miles R/T. PLUS reserves–on electric power. It also doesn’t take into account that it is COLD in the Great White North–and cold sucks the life out of batteries.

    As mentioned above, this hasn’t even reach a MODEL or PROTOTYPE state for the airframe OR the propulsion system. I know of no aircraft that has gone from concept to prototype to certification in 4 years–even with proven technology.

    I find it hard to believe that a company that was bankrupt only a year ago has the money to buy 50 new aircraft.

    As for AvWeb–readers depend on AvWeb for realistic aviation information. Since AvWeb doesn’t take airframe advertisements, it is considered a reliable source for realistic analysis. Articles of this sort diminishes the reputation of AvWeb. Let it appear along with the “flying car” concepts in Popular Mechanics Magazine.

    File this one away–“to be opened JULY 1, 2025”. Would anyone bet on them making the certification and delivery date?

  3. Just to be a better ‘Social “Green” Worrier’ then everyone else. I’ll buy 55 Free Rainbow Powered Certified Unicorns… (;

    • Cool acronym. Apt and applicable. I’ll have to remember it. I’m familiar with SJW (Social Justice Warrior) but I like this one too. They are indeed Worriers.

  4. This Company is coming out of bankruptcy. they’re gonna design some Buck Rodgers looking airplane, build it, test fly it, get it approved and enter commercial service with 50 of ’em. Is cannabis legal in Alaska? NASA has been piddling with it’s similar looking X-57 Maxwell for years and STILL hasn’t flown it … and they have the printing press at their beckon call. At least they have something that can be seen and touched.

    I’ll second Jim Hanson’s question … why does Avweb print this rubbish ?? You need to have a “From the Funnies” column clearly defined when you print stuff like this. But hey … I just saw a reality program on TV where they have a video of a man laying an egg so …

  5. You are all missing the point – “travel with the smallest carbon footprint possible.” Coming out of bankruptcy, we have to look “acceptable” to J Q Public. Besides, the remote areas with no power won’t be a problem. We simply use our Dash 8’s to fly in some spare, charged packs, along with enough kerosine to keep them warm. Then, when swapped out, we simply fly the Dash’s back in for exchange and more kero. But since we are hauling electrons and not passengers, we are still accomplishing “travel with the smallest carbon footprint possible.”

  6. VSV.

    Virtue Signaling Vaporwear.


    I like AvWeb and I appreciate our discourse but I agree this electric nonsense has to go, or find a seperate category accessed by a string of 11 submenus

  7. Maybe there is some serious upcoming infrastructure money ready to be thrown at green projects such as this.

  8. Ravn will buy 50? And not even one prototype exists? “Yeah, that sounds right.” said CEO Michael Scott.

  9. This is modern commercial aviation financing 101. Ravn has been in business for 70 years. No telling how many previous bankruptcies in the past. I am sure they have financial “bones shaking in the closet” we and most others are unaware of. Doesn’t everybody who has attempted to make a living in aviation for the last 70 years.

    Ravn goes BK in 2020. Emerges out of bankruptcy mid-2021 and seeks investment dollars including re-gaining some sort of business financing now that they have restructured. Standard 2021 commercial aviation financing restructuring is to announce a large purchase of non-existent electric powered v/TOLS heavily playing on the “green” theme, using the carbon footprint buzzword, and meeting the raising demands of their customers. No telling how much dough will now pour in and from whom. Judging by other commercial aviation press releases, there is still a lot of speculative money willing to take a risk on so far, flying fantasies.

    “Airflow platforms differ from a lot of electric offerings in that they are designed to fit into the existing aviation system. The planes can be configured for pure electric, hybrid and hydrogen power and fly conventionally.”

    Airflow platforms differ from their competition as they have platforms (note that does not necessarily mean flying machines including airplanes) but platforms that can be powered by all of the flying fantasies encompassing pure electric, hybrid, and hydrogen power. So indeed, any one of these power sources can be attached to a platform. Making them fly carrying anything other than their batteries or fuel sources, certifying them for rules that don’t yet exist, and carrying “demanding passengers” is entirely another series of problems. But platforms are what investors are ga ga about rather than a real, safe, proven, flying machine.

    Ravn has met all the modern requirements for massive infusion of other people’s money, (OPM) including the possibility of federal funding. They meet all of popular requirements of being “green”, leaving a small or even a zero “carbon footprint”, and will be in service to meet the ever increasing “demands of the modern customer” before we know it. Slam dunk financing for an aerial conveyance that does not exist.

    I would like to be more optimistic. I would like to see success. I would like to see commercial aviation be profitable. But I am skeptical of another series of promises based on virtual reality that is so far off reality its virtual fantasy masquerading as technical advancement. But that kind of unrealistic optimism seems to draw millions of OPM. Signs of the aviation times.

    AvWeb is just simply reporting on someone else’s fantasy(s).

  10. AVweb is not saying it’s going to happen. They’re just reporting a news item. No need to shoot the messenger. And apparently there’s lots of electric aviation buzz these days. Sooner or later some of it is going to work!

  11. Modern aviation is odd. It took Epic 12 years to certify a kit plane that by today’s standards comprised of common materials, nice yet conventional design, and powered by a well well proven turbine engine. Combined, it is a great performer. Likewise, Cirrus took almost as long to bring into certification, what was then new manufacturing technology, combining great avionics with a proven series of conventional piston powerplants. We can throw in ICON, Mooney, and Diamond into this mix of new airplane manufacturers. All have weathered the scrutiny of the FAA, invested heavily in being at all the trade shows, Oshkosh, and supplied myriads of press releases along the way. However, once certified, all needed mass cash infusions to remain solvent, eventually leading them to be purchased by the Chinese and Russians to remain in production. In other words, the investments dried up shortly after all of these companies finally made it to the FAA promise land of certification. No further US investment interests nor from any other country outside of communism. All of this effort to have our avowed adversaries invest and own these aviation companies. And all the profits ( little, none, small, or large) is provided largely by the US aviation consumer.

    Now, we the aviation consumer, are being informed by press releases delivered through the aviation media for dissemination glowing report after report about promises of exotic technology soon to be certified, dotting the skies with untold mobility. This new aerial mobility does not pollute, can take off and land vertically, designed to fly autonomously, carry people and cargo across town, city, or mountains in any kind of weather. Even charged by charging stations that have no electricity. And the added bonus is it will not interfere with any of the current, manned aircraft in service in any way. All of this burgeoning aerial optimism will be guided, handled, implemented, certified, and integrated by the same FAA that shepherded Cirrus, Epic, Mooney, ICON, and Diamond to consumer maturity. And by miracles, in less than four years. This includes writing and approving the rules and regulations that currently do not exist.

    The same investment dollars that said no to Cirrus, Epic, ICON, Diamond, and Mooney ( all being relatively conventional) is saying yes to technology promises that have yet to produce anything other than ridiculous predictions of certification, sales, and passenger projections seen only through sophisticated virtual reality fantasy, RC model prototypes, or an occasional full size rendering that may fly but cannot meet any of the specifications they claim they will achieve.

    This is an amazing investment paradox that makes not one lick of sense to me. Yet, this kind of irrational projections seems to be the magnet that generates millions of OPM ( Other People’s Money). Oddly, the anger, the kick back, the brunt of a lot of criticism seems to be pointed to the aviation media for reporting such fantasies. I think we the taxpayer, we the aviation consumer, we the US aviation community needs to direct our criticisms to the generators of these press releases rather than armchair quarterbacking the media outlets for providing them space or airtime for such aerial optimism.

    We rail on the messenger instead of the ones instigating the message. Besides, after all the dust settles and someone does manage to assemble, certify, and finally manufacturer a product, there will be no more money coming from these shores for them to continue. This makes for another Chinese or Russian opportunity to direct our skies from Moscow and Beijing because they know the formula including the FAA better than we do. All they have to do is wait for the US and the free world to throw in the investment towel right after the certification is achieved. This seems to be a routine pattern, not an anomaly.

    So, I prefer that AvWeb continue to report all of the aviation news including flying unicorns. At least I will know when the Chinese and Russians will be getting out their checkbooks and whatever does mature, goes overseas. Get used to extra thick vTOL POH’s ( assuming there will be pilot) because they will be written in foreign languages in addition to English just like just about everything we purchase today.

  12. The commenters above are correct that this is politically-correct vapourware.

    I think it’s important to point out that people today, especially younger ones, actually believe nonsense like this – it’s a form of mass delusion. We scoff at it, but it is their perception of reality.

  13. No attempt to “shoot the messenger”–reporting on a “press release” that has nary a chance at succeeding.

    Rather, it’s like telling an old friend where he is making a mistake–a mistake that may be FATAL to him. Nobody here advocates “seizing the keys” to prevent that good friend from making a fatal mistake in aviation journalism–but we all want to see that same friend continue to prosper, and not be taken in by hucksters.

    Friendship is usually a two way street–we learn from our friend (AvWeb) and hate to see them make self-destructive mistakes (publishing “vaporware”) where people new to the site may be taken in by wild promises and prediction. A good friend tells his friend when he/she is making a mistake. Those of us of a “certain age” recall the old Listerine Mouthwash advertisement–“EVEN YOUR BEST FRIEND WON’T TELL YOU!” (that you have bad breath.)

    AvWeb is perhaps the most important site for aviation analysis. Don’t dilute it with false promises. Perhaps a special page needs to be added (as cartoon character Rocky the Flying Squirrel used to say–“And now something that’s REALLY different!”)–a page for baseless press releases. It would provide a bit of comedy, and separate AvWeb from the spurious “press releases” masquerading as real news.

    I have a 60-year+ collection of aviation magazines–every once in a while I go through them–it’s fun to look back at breathless announcements of “the next big thing!” Here’s hoping that AvWeb will be able to “sort the wheat from the chaff”–and not tied to or be used by questionable “announcements.”


  14. “Friendship is usually a two way street–we learn from our friend (AvWeb) and hate to see them make self-destructive mistakes (publishing “vaporware”) where people new to the site may be taken in by wild promises and prediction. A good friend tells his friend when he/she is making a mistake. ”

    Ah, the serenity and confidence of the certain. From a lofty perch, separating the wheat from the chaff for the good of man, friends and strangers alike, out of altruistic caring and journalistic protection. No hubris at all, lol.

    And now, from the same source I found out about the live turkey drop in Yellville and coverage of UAP’s by the US military with alien implications and hundreds of other news items, dubiously relevant for some intellectual windbags in the comment section here comes yet another news item about – can it be? – Electric Aircraft.
    Good gawd, the Horror, the horror.

    Personally, I enjoy learning everything about whatever subject suits me at any given time. But relevant on this forum, aviation. Thanks Russ, et al. Keep up the diversity, humor and informative news writings about any and all aviation related news items. This reader appreciates it all. Even a live turkey drop.

  15. What was your source for “live turkey drops in Yellville”? WKRP in Cincinnati? “As God is my witness, I THOUGHT TURKEYS COULD FLY!” (laugh)

    That seems entirely appropriate for the news releases for non-existent airplanes that likely never WILL get off the drawing board.

    SOMEBODY needs to hold “manufacturers” and the aviation press accountable for projects that haven’t flown–and LIKELY NEVER WILL! Look at the breathless announcement of “flying cars” since pre-WW II. Get a stack old magazines, and look at all of the aircraft and pilot products that never made it. Finally, look at all of the “certification is right around the corner” articles in the same aviation magazines. Can you name the airplanes and certification dates for NEW type certificated airplanes in the last 20 or 30 years? The four that come to mind are the Cessna Cardinal (1967–54 years ago), the Commander 112 (1972–49 years ago), the infamous BD-5 of the early 1970s (also 49 years ago and never certificated) and Cirrus (SR-20 in 1998–23 years ago).

    Aviation takes a black eye from the false promises of “new certificated aircraft”–and you can add to it the promises of kit-built aircraft going out of business–all of which promised performance the manufacturer couldn’t deliver. Jim Bede took deposits for non existent BD-1 kits in the late 60s–and BD-5 aircraft in the 1970s (until the Federal Trade Commission forbade him from taking deposits for 10 years). Undaunted, Bede came up with the BD-10 jet in 1983 under yet a different corporation. It never flew–even as a homebuilt. Not to dwell on Jim Bede–in the early 70s, Minneapolis businessman Tony Fox promised the Foxjet–MORE VAPORWARE. Certification was “just around the corner”–yet the prototype never flew–and 79 purchasers lost their money. The project was sold to several different owners–it never flew.

    If you are a pilot old enough to recall all of these false promises and STILL want to invest in something that rarely works–there’s nothing to stop you (possible exception: The Securities and Exchange Commission if you are making a public offering of stock)–but these would-be “inventors” that don’t deliver continue to give aviation a black eye.

    It’s bad enough when aviation magazines trumpet these false claims–that’s why I have subscribed to Aviation Consumer for decades–they don’t take advertising. AvWeb doesn’t take advertising either, but doesn’t have the skepticism of Aviation Consumer–despite common contributors and editors over the years. Alone in the aviation press and online information, Aviation Consumer “lays it on the line”–an admittedly unique perspective. Yes–I still subscribe to GA magazines–as often as not, TO SEE THE “PUFFERY” AND OLD WIVE’S TALES THAT I’LL HAVE TO LISTEN TO FOR THE NEXT FEW YEARS. But for a dose of reality, I continue to subscribe to Aviation Consumer (and AvWeb) to cut through the false promises. All most of us are asking is to stick with their promise of offering reality–not empty promises.

  16. ‘What was your source for “live turkey drops in Yellville”? WKRP in Cincinnati?’

    Ha, rite cheer on Avweb, Jim. Look, one man’s false promise could be another’s entertainment, if you want. Who cares? I think Avweb has proven their journalistic chops well enough and I’m sure as I can be I can discriminate rightly to read their offerings without freaking out.

    What if another person says after one of these electric birds breaks through and hits success ‘Where the hell was Avweb all along not covering this airbourne electric miracle phoenix, huh’? Maybe they should have spent less time reporting on the ‘reality’ of live turkey drops and smelly old tech from a hundred years ago and the old farts flying them!’ Reality can be overrated.

    Yeah, someone could say that…

  17. Well, what WAS your source for the “live turkey drops?” The only one I can think of is the famous WKRP skit–HARDLY a “credible source”.

    The other reality is that there ARE far, far more “vaporware” claims than “innovative claims”. I cited 4 examples of airplanes that actually were certified in the last 50 years. Compare that paucity with the outlandish claims in MOST of the Aviation Press. The aviation press does no favors to the industry or to the individuals victimized by these claimants by lending their own credibility in publishing them. Since there IS NO PRODUCT, the claims are not credible.

    AvWeb and Aviation Consumer lead the industry in reporting REAL WORLD OBJECTIVE PERFORMANCE on aircraft and aviation matters. Let OTHERS portray the puffery of products yet to be produced. As for me–I’ll live in the REAL WORLD–and continue subscribing to Aviation Consumer and AvWeb.

    • Fair enough. My concern isn’t how media outlets interact with manufacturers, etc. Only how aviation info like here on Avweb is given to us as pilots of every stripe and background. And I prefer that to be richly full of aviation news, whether based upon one’s particular viewpoint of REALITY or not, lol.

      I’m surprised you weren’t around when Avweb told about the Yellville live turkey drops. It was probably 4 or 5 years ago. Yes, for real!
      But I hope you’re not too flummoxed with Avweb reporting on the UAP’s lately, now that could really challenge one’s interpretation of REALITY! 🙂

  18. If the event is Texas wasn’t an harbinger of the issues with rushing towards “renewable energy”, I do not know what is.