Ampaire flew its hybrid electric Caravan for the first time Nov. 18, completing a 33-minute hop from Camarillo, California. According to Green Car Congress, the short flight was conducted to do initial checks on the propulsion system, which consists of a compression ignition engine coupled to a generator that charges a battery bank in a belly pod which, in turn, powers the electric motor that turns the propeller. No issues were reported.
Seguin took the Caravan to 3,500 feet at full power and then spent 20 minutes at various power settings checking temperatures and other parameters. The hybrid actually has a greater range (more than 1,000 miles) than a standard Caravan and has the same payload. Because the batteries are in the pod, cabin space and passenger capacity are also the same. Ampaire says the overall reduction in operating costs is 25 to 40 percent and if the generator is run on sustainable aviation fuel its net carbon contribution is almost zero. The company hopes to have the mods STC’d by 2024.