DHL Orders 12 Eviation Electric Cargo Planes


Following some interest from airlines in electric aircraft, cargo carrier DHL has announced it has ordered 12 Eviation Alice electric cargo aircraft. It’s the first order for the cargo version of the aircraft and DHL has big plans. “We firmly believe in a future with zero-emission logistics,” John Pearson, CEO of DHL Express, said in a news release. “We have found the perfect partner with Eviation as they share our purpose, and together we will take off into a new era of sustainable aviation.”

DHL says the Alice fleet will service short hop routes that are common in its operations. It will be able to carry 2600 pounds of freight and go up to 440 miles on a charge. A recharge will take 30 minutes and will be done during unloading and loading. DHL said the electric planes will fit seamlessly into its fleet of piston and turbine planes that serve smaller communities. DHL said the first aircraft will likely be used in California.

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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    • You can still make a bet. They haven’t flown the aircraft yet….they’re still designing/ building the prototype.!

    • PT Barnum had it right.
      People can obviously be fooled into thinking that the solution for “zero emissions” is to have batteries/solar built in carbon polluting China. Not only are they fooled, but they feel proud of their non-solution.

  1. Well, it’s certainly not an optimal configuration for handling freight. How soon can they get the plane certified?

  2. With two 650 kw motors that may run in cruise at 50% power, that’s still 650kw for 2 hours, 1,300 kWhrs of battery. A Tesla 100 kWhr battery weighs 1.350 lbs, so the Alice battery can weigh 17,500 lb…!
    I’ll wait to see it fly 400 nm in 2 hours.

    • I have a friend with a new Tesla Model S. His battery weighs about 1,200 lbs and gets him about 350 miles of range in good weather at 70 mph. He looked at this and agreed that the battery size for the power demand looked a little optimistic.

  3. Actually, this is probably the ideal application for early electric aircraft. Freight dog service is about as demanding as you can get, so this will test both the power capacity and charging rate of the electric system, as well as test the reliability of the propulsion system. If Alice can hack it here, then short-haul passenger service should be quite possible.

  4. I have an idea about all the activity in electric aircraft.

    It’s like the brewing industry. Over the years, pretty much all the breweries have been bought up by something like 5 multinational conglomerates. They tend to make the same mass appeal product. In the last few years, a new industry of craft brewers has begun to appear. The justification? They claim to produce a more interesting, better tasting beer. It is not that hard, or expensive, to set up a small brewery. Over time, some will succeed in a modest way (as compared to the conglomerates), many will fail, and others may grow enough to be acquired by one of the conglomerates.

    In the aircraft industry, we have two major players, Boeing and Airbus. Each makes the same kinds of airliners. It is very expensive to try and come up with a competing product, which would be pretty much the same as what Boeing or Airbus makes, so what’s the point? Now, a new justification comes along: “We must electrify to save the environment”. A bunch of small players start up, because it isn’t that hard to design and build at least a prototype. Over time, some may succeed in their niche market, many will fail, and if anyone solves the secret of making a long range, workable electric airliner, Boeing or Airbus will buy them.

    Most of the rest of this is hype and PR. Companies want good PR, so claiming you are doing something for the environment is believed to be good for business, even if nothing really comes of it.

    • Glen I like your brewery analogy but even the best of analogies break down sooner or later. I hate to admit it but having tasted a few of these “interesting craft beers”, no one can pour me a better beer than the old tried and true Belgian and German lagers. Except that here is where yours and now my brewery analogy breaks down.

      Seattle Times today: “Boeing said Monday that the problem that scrubbed the launch of its Starliner spacecraft was caused when 13 valves in its propulsion system failed to properly open during a preflight test earlier this month, a more widespread issue than was previously known.” 13 valves? Really? Only Boeing could invent 13 valves which simultaneously fail to open. How about 12 or 14, but 13? That number alone should give us all the willies, let alone any number of valves on a human bearing rocket ship.

      My bet is that Boeing doesn’t have the imagination or creativity to successfully buy and bring any Eviation dream, let alone this one to fruition. And last I checked Boeing isn’t a real player in good PR anymore. I’d sooner place my bets on toking, stoned and baked Elon.

      • I agree with your beer comment. I try a lot of craft beers, but wouldn’t go for a second pint of a lot of them. I like a good lager on a hot summer day.

        My general theme really is about how in most technological developments you start out with many start-ups, but as the technology matures, you seem to end up with a few large, consolidated vendors.

        However, the press seems to treat every press release as the dawning of a fantastic new age, without any caveats. I guess they have to fill their pages with something, and regurgitating press releases is easier than a lot of other writing.

        As for Boeing, if they can’t right their own ship (airplane), the government will likely step in to save them. I just can’t see the U.S. letting Boeing exit the market. U.S. gov did, after all, rescue GM and Chrysler in the auto sector. One answer might be to combine Boeing with Lockheed Martin and create the Truly Colossal All American Airplane Company (TCAAAC).

    • If the number 13 gives you the willies you shouldn’t be in the science business. That said, the only talent Boeing seems to have left is in lobbying.

  5. Wow, what a bunch of Bull Stuff. 1.3 megawatt hours of power, at the airport, on the ramp. yeah this will happen, NOT.

    • If they hook up 4 of the Tesla 250 kW Superchargers, they could recharge it in 1.3 hours….maybe, if the transmission line can carry the 480 volts and 2,700 amps. ?

      • Uh Huh and given that DLO 1111 is only rated for a 1000 amps at 30 deg C in free air someone should start thinking about water cooled cable. More load, more infrastructure, more cost. Someone needs to call these story tellers out and ask some very uncomfortable questions.

        • Hey, that’s the solution. Just borrow a GE ES44 locomotive. With 3.2 MW,, it will charge it up in 25 minutes.!
          [ just don’t mind all the diesel it will burn.!]

      • You guys just have no faith. You need to invest in my new start-up; we’re developing a photovoltaic paint that, applied to the aircraft, will re-charge the batteries in flight as well as provide the necessary propulsive power in cruise. On daylight legs, the excess battery power can be sold to the local power company while the aircraft is parked at the gate during turnaround.

  6. First cargo trip: Delivering depleted batteries to a charging center.
    The return trip: Delivering depleted batteries to a charging center.

  7. More green washing. Has anyone sent any of these folks a list of specific questions regarding any of these issues and how they intend to address them?
    One question, I have not seen anything on is we know that batteries lose efficiency as the temperature drops. We have all probably seen the EV stories where range is cut in half or a fourth during cold weather. Last time I looked at the air temp while flying, it got colder the higher I went. And it tends to get pretty cold at flight levels used by commercial aircraft. What will the effects of cold temps at altitude be on battery performance?

  8. With this particular aircraft the airframe numbers really don’t make sense. It’s a 1814kg airframe (not including batteries) with a MTOW of 6668kg. I really don’t think it is possible to create an airframe strong enough to carry that much weight from 1814kg of material. Aircraft designers are already minimizing weight as much as possible and there is no other aircraft that comes anywhere close.

    In fact, if you took the Alice airframe, removed the batteries and put in turboprop or piston engines and fuel tanks, you’d have the best performing twin-turboprop or piston-twin on the market by a very large margin. Something does not add up.

    • it is not supposed to add up.These are not real, it is marketing wank and fodder for the eco terrorists.My grandchildren will be in retirement before this become anything more than smoke and mirrors.