California-based electric aviation company Ampaire flew its second hybrid-electric technology demonstrator for the first time last week. Ampaire’s “Electric EEL” is a converted Cessna 337 Skymaster powered by tail-mounted 310-horsepower Continental IO-550 and a 200kW—limited to 120 kW—electric motor in the nose. In partnership with Mokulele Airlines and climate change solutions company Elemental Excelerator, Ampaire plans to use the prototype to conduct a series of flight trials in Hawaii later this year.
“Since flying our first Electric EEL last year, we have made substantial improvements to the power train for efficiency, increased performance, reliability and safety,” said Ampaire CEO Kevin Noertker. “This technology is scalable with wide applications for scheduled passenger and cargo services, as well as charter services. Our flights with Mokulele will be an opportunity to test both the aircraft and the infrastructure required to advance electric aviation and transport access in Hawaii.”
According to the company, changes made on the second prototype include moving the battery pack from inside the cabin to the underside of the fuselage, using a lighter, more efficient electric power unit (EPU) and improving cockpit instrumentation and power controls. The demonstrator is designed to cruise at 120 knots with an endurance of 1 hour and 15 minutes plus a 30-minute reserve. As previously reported by AVweb, Ampaire’s first hybrid-electric Skymaster demonstrator completed its initial flight in June 2019.