Ampaire Gets Firm Order For Hybrid Caravans


A southwest U.S. company has placed firm orders, backed by deposits, for five hybrid-powered Ampaire Eco Caravans for use on its California, Arizona and Nevada routes. Wing Tips also has an option for another 20 Caravans and 50 of the 19-seat Twin Otter conversions that will follow the Caravan into production. Wing Tips will use the Caravans on routes of 100 to 400 miles using small GA airports and a unique booking system that allows seat assignments for on-demand charter flights. Ampaire hasn’t flown the converted Caravan yet but plans to before the end of the year. The company claims the aircraft will use 50-70 percent less fuel depending on the length of the flight.

“Ampaire and WingTips share a vision of reducing the cost and increasing the convenience of regional air travel while addressing a major source of harmful greenhouse gas emissions,” said Ampaire CEO Kevin Noertker. “The starting point for moving toward zero emissions is with low-emission hybrid-electric aircraft such as the Eco Caravan.” The company says it expects supplemental type certification for the hybrid system by 2024 and Wing Tips is anxious to put the planes to work. “The Eco Caravan will redefine operating cost through its extreme efficiency,” said WingTips founder and CEO Mike Azzarello. “Our objective is to close the gap with the cost of driving while cutting travel time up to 75 percent. Working with Ampaire, we’ll be able to achieve this in a sustainable way.”

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  1. I think it would be informative and useful to establish a “betting market” on all of these “vaporware” schemes. Lots of announcements–lots of coverage–little actually certified and used.

    Something like “What are the odds that the electric Caravan will be certified for scheduled passenger operations by this date in 2024–as stated?”

    The stock markets react to both press releases, and the failure to perform. There are “futures markets” for commodities. You can “short” a stock. Watching the “Markets” on these proposals would be an indication not only of measuring the interest in the announcements, the perception of viability of the proposal by PEOPLE THAT ACTUALLY HAVE SOME SKIN IN THE GAME!

    • Careful there, this “news” story was NOT an accurate quote about the expected STC certification timeline. Ampaire did NOT claim “it expects supplemental type certification for the hybrid system by 2024”

      They actually said in their press release “The company is working with the FAA to achieve supplemental type certificate approval in 2024.”

      Their actual sentence was obviously carefully scrubbed by their legal team so as to not make a legal Forward Looking Statement but doesn’t mean a darned thing, it just expresses that they will be “working with” the FAA. (So will I and a lot of people. Maybe we’ll all get lucky and they’ll hand out certs for all our projects on Christmas Eve 2024!)

      If Ampaire actually had any factual basis to expect certification in 2024 and believed a rational person would draw that conclusion if they were asked to explain their optimism to the SEC when served a subpoena, the sentence would have read something like:

      “Based on our progress and ongoing discussions with FAA certification branch
      regarding our timeline, by the end of 2024 we expect to earn an STC for this
      new-technology powerplant, its installation in B Caravans, operations, associated
      power source, controllers and chargers, and required maintenance and inspection
      to ensure continued airworthiness in commercial service.”

      That would still give them a lot of wiggle room, but they obviously chose to say nothing at all and hope no aviation journalist would make the night-and-day distinction.

      The “airline” specifically gave no mention of a year they expect to take delivery. According to Ampaire: “Disclaimer: The specifications listed are the performance targets driving our technical development and are subject to change without notice.” So if you call that a firm offer on a plane with no hard specs which offers only literally 61 words of detail from the manufacturer, I’ve got some great business opportunities for you!

      Their first flight of this tech (not their push/pull 337 hybrid project) was in Feb. If they get an STC for a product with no defined cert path by 2024, it would a big change for the FAA’s processes that would be quite a shock.

      As far as skin, turns out that’s you and me! According to grants dot gov the US taxpayers are multi-million dollar investors in these guys/gals/etc. from NASA award of multiple no-strings-attached aviation sustainability research grants. Have a look at the PowerPoints on nasa dot gov and tell me if you think we’re getting a good deal…

  2. In line with the above, it would be interesting to know if these are NEW Caravans (produced by Cessna) or conversions of OLD Caravans. Will Cessna certify them? (If not, WHY NOT?)–does CESSNA believe there is a market for this aircraft?

    I’d be much more confident if a company like Cessna built and certified them, rather than a development company like Amp-Air.

      • Like electric airplanes, someone once called Bill Lear a “Pioneer”. His retort–“A Pioneer is a Farmer with an arrow in his ass!”

        Lear did pioneer a lot of projects, from radio to autopilots to 8 track tape players to Learjets. He made a lot of money–only to lose much of it with failed products. All had problems along the way–and required years of sacrifice, change, and at the cost of lives to ameliorate.

  3. “The company claims the aircraft will use 50-70 percent less fuel depending on the length of the flight.”

    What about energy? I assume they will use exactly the same amout of enery to fly the same routes at the same speeds. I’m not sure where any savings are comming from.

  4. There may be incremental gains in efficiency and therefore less energy use but your point is valid considering thermolytic law.

    5-7% not 50-70% may be achievable but even that I’d doubt.

    And even then less so if you consider energy in manufacture and upkeep and charging.