Embry-Riddle, Eviation Partner On Electric Aircraft

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Image: Eviation Aircraft

Image: Eviation Aircraft

Electric aircraft company Eviation announced last week that it is forming a research and development partnership with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Through the partnership, fourth year undergraduate engineering students will collaborate with Eviation on zero-emission all-electric aircraft solutions. According to Eviation, the university program will focus on performance analysis, validation and testing, future electric propulsion and airframe design concepts. It will also include work on Eviation’s all-electric Alice Aircraft, a nine-passenger regional commuter designed to travel up to 650 miles at a cruise speed of 240 knots.

"Embry-Riddle is at the forefront of aviation innovation and we are excited to partner with Eviation Aircraft and deliver on our commitment to exposing students to groundbreaking technology," said Embry-Riddle Chancellor Frank Ayers. "By including Embry-Riddle engineers and students in the R&D pool, Eviation and the Alice Aircraft will take advantage of the exposure and knowledge from our best and brightest engineers."

The university program is scheduled to launch at Embry-Riddle’s Prescott, Arizona, campus next spring. Eviation plans to debut the Alice Aircraft at the 53rd Paris Air Show, which will take place in June 2019. The Israel-based company announced last August that it had chosen Prescott as the location of its U.S. corporate headquarters.

Comments (13)

Please stop using the zero emissions descriptor for electric aircraft. To be correct it is only shifting emissions. In many parts of the country it will actually be coal powered if it is charged off the electric grid.
Zero Emissions is only a piece of advertising propaganda, not based on fact. Sure it makes a lot of people feel good but it is not true.

Posted by: Leo LeBoeuf | December 28, 2018 7:21 PM    Report this comment

If these folks can take 9 pax 650 miles at 240 knots and "zero emissions" ... WOW! I gotta figure out how they do that because my Cessna wouldn't need THAT much energy to carry me around. I'd be glad to give up payload for -- say -- a 3500 mile transcontinental range at just 200 kts. Perhaps I could fly it all year and only pull into the coal fired power plant once a year for refueling.

"Alice" ... such a cute name for a new technology airplane, too. Their 1/2 scale POC vehicle was named Orca. First flight was supposed to be 2018 ... they've only got a few days left ... better get cutting, boys. The Paris Air Show is coming up fast, too.

You're right, Leo.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | December 29, 2018 3:11 AM    Report this comment

Aww, come on guys. You know they are only going to use that "clean" electricity from solar and wind to power their little Alice! Not that nasty dirty power from coal or gas. ;-)

Posted by: John McNamee | December 29, 2018 12:46 PM    Report this comment

Why didn't I think of that, John. They could mount one of those old fashioned wind generators on the thing to generate enough energy to deliver the performance they're claiming. Maybe that's what those wing mounted propellers are? One to run the rear pusher and the other to save some if the wind dies down. Solar panels on the top of the fuselage could provide for a pseudo eAPU function when on the ground. Why it'd be a virtual perpetual motion machine with zero impact on the planet while putting all the turboprop manufacturers out of business. ERAU students could learn all about conservation of energy with this little jewel.

Say ... that fuselage planform looks suspiciously like Jim Bede's BD-14. Wonder if they borrowed it to take that picture?

I wonder if they're taking deposits yet? I'd like to be the first on my airport to own and fly an Alice. $2.9M per copy seems reasonable enough.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | December 29, 2018 2:17 PM    Report this comment

As an ERAU grad, this has to come under the "Dumb and Dumber" concept. Great in theory, bad in reality and practice.

The entire focus for aviation and the Auto companies should be a better propellant. Producing electricity via coal or Natural Gas is simply "Carbon Exchange Hoax."

Buying into the "hoax" just doesn't fly.

The solution lies in ECUs and engines that produce power from ethanol/hydrogen or similar "synthetic fuel." This product was created back in the 1940s. Never brought to market because of "economic powers." It's about wealth and control of resources.

Posted by: Rod Coulter | December 30, 2018 6:22 AM    Report this comment

I hope the ERAU students are going to give some careful consideration to the one-engine-out (should that be one-motor-out?) peformance of that thing. Looks like the VMC speed could be quite high...

Posted by: Peter Ben | December 30, 2018 1:46 PM    Report this comment

Please continue to use the term "zero emissions" for fully electric aircraft. In many cases, the electricity for them will come from non-coal sources. In some cases the electricity will come from solar power. If we want to move upstream in the name of "accuracy" we will have to start counting all the hydrocarbons upstream that got the hydrocarbons to our gas pumps, and then the comparison gets even worse. Switching to hydrogen just means either even more hydrocarbons (reformed natural gas) or 3X the energy to electrolyze water and then pressurize or liquify H2 versus just putting that electricity into a battery. I still find it remarkable as an aerospace engineer that my fellow pilots find such a sport in ridiculing new technology, in particular the attempts to make aviation survive in a future where getting away from hydrocarbon fuels is not a question of if, only when.

Posted by: Patrick Wright | December 30, 2018 8:47 PM    Report this comment

As an aerospace engineer, Patrick, you would instantly recognize that the performance claims they are making for a pure electric machine are not only ridiculous ... they're borderline criminal. OK ... let's get technical ...


They think they'll be able to carry 11 people, air condition, pressurize, deice, carry enough batteries to power three 350hp motors. get a 13,382 pound machine up to FL280 with a 4,000' cabin on battery energy densities of 260Wh/kg, have a cruise of 240 kts and a range of 738 miles.

OH ... and did I mention that the batteries alone weigh 7,630 pounds and after 1,000 cycles you get to replace them for only $250K? Eleven 200 pound people with bags alone will weigh 2,200 pounds. So let's see ... 13,382 - (7630+2,200) = 3,552 pounds for the airframe, motors avionics and electronics and etc.

RIDICULOUS! OK ... I'll use an ERAU grad's (Rod's) words ... "dumb and dumber."

This whole "electric" thing (cars and especially airplanes) is getting out of hand.

In a major shopping center in Oshkosh, WI, Tesla installed six state of the art (and pretty looking) charging stations for their cars. Every time I go through there I ask folks if they've ever seen them in use. Answer ... NEVER! In an urban environment for short distances, I have no problem with the electric car idea. In fact, I'd have one if the price was right. But in an airplane ... FUHGETABOUTIT. And performance claims like this ... criminal.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | December 31, 2018 4:42 AM    Report this comment

And furthermore ...

Eight years ago, George Bye and Cessna Aircraft announced they were collaborating to build and fly a "green" full electric two place C172 conversion with a Jet-A powered APU by the following spring 2012. Why they even had "offices" at the AZ State Univ SkySong Innovation Center in Scottsdale. I was all set to order the conversion package for my aircraft ...

So where is it? OH ... it was renamed the SunFlyer and even IT hasn't been successful. It only just flew for the first time last year. Big difference between an electric two place C172 and a tiny one place SunFlyer ... starting with eight years timeline. You can't buy one.

All ya gotta do is announce something is now electric powered and "green" and ... Blam ... a major aviation portal will write about it as if it was reality and imminent.

If ya want to save aviation ... figure out a way to get real tort reform to bring the price of a new glass C172 down to less than $200K. All the rest of it is nothing more than hot air used to provide buoyancy for balloons in Albuquerque. I wondered why Bye Aircraft had offices there, too.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | December 31, 2018 5:12 AM    Report this comment

" "By including Embry-Riddle engineers and students in the R&D pool, Eviation and the Alice Aircraft will take advantage of..."

...the parents of ERAU students who will be paying the bill for Eviation's "free" labor pool.
This is a dead-end project by any reasonable assessment of physics and technology.
If you forget physics and economy and rather embrace politics and pseudo-science, this is what you get.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | December 31, 2018 9:10 AM    Report this comment

Can you imagine a fleet of "Alices"? How green will Alice be when you have to figure out what you are going to do with all these batteries when they wear out.

Just like truck bone-yards who are filled with old fiberglass bodied trucks that you cannot do anything with including recycling. I wonder where all the Prius batteries are being recycled at and the carbon footprint that recycling costs?

The cool thing is maybe Alice can use the unused Tesla charging stations at Oshkosh for another aviation "press release" touting environmentally green electric airplanes. Oshkosh is the largest aviation event in the western hemisphere and with 600,000+ people attending, maybe a few would want to fly in Alice. All ERAU would have to do is make it takeoff and land vertically. I am sure that new technology added to Alice would buy another press release. And with the pilot shortage, Alice can be autonomous garnering yet a third aviation press release. Before you know it, a $1995 electric airplane because of all the free publicity.

Larry can keep his 172 for nostalgia, drive a Volt, and afford to be autonomously chauffeured and flown all over the US, with nary a carbon emission in his $1995 electric Alice.

What do ya think Larry?

Posted by: Jim Holdeman | December 31, 2018 9:49 AM    Report this comment

Exactly, Mark.

If these people would aim their efforts at getting modern day computer controlled engines -- like the 915iS, and larger -- into airplanes, they'd make a heckuva lot more impact on aviation. Coupled with real tort reform ergo price drops for new airplanes and deregulation of primary aviation from the FAA ... it'd be a new day at the airports. Just compare the fuel specifics between the 912ULS and the 912iS ... you'll get my point.

If you assess the need for "electric / green" airplanes from the standpoint of helping the planet, it's voodoo science ... period. And with current battery energy density or power densities, it's still light years away. If GM couldn't make the Volt successful ... even with massive Govment subsidies, how is poor 'ol Alice gonna do it. OH ... right ... help from rich ERAU parents or student loans.

As for climate change ... you guys have heard of a guy by the name of Burt Rutan, I'd imagine? I had the absolute pleasure of my life being in his presence during the Voyager flight in Mission Control at Mojave. The guy is a walking genius. Here's what HE says about it.
PLEASE! I beg ya'll to take the time ... listen to his one hour video and study his charts:


"Carbon dioxide is not a greenhouse gas. It is yummy plant food without which almost all life on earth would cease. The atmosphere concentration of CO2 is currently 400 parts per million (ppm). Should it ever fall below 200 ppm, all plant life on earth will die. The increase in CO2 in the last 50 years has caused crop yields to increase around the world (helping to feed people- L)."

I just learned a new (old) word ... Lugenpresse.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | December 31, 2018 10:08 AM    Report this comment

I saved a December 2011 (that's seven years ago for those of you in Prescott) Op-ed article entitled "High Voltage" by Peter Garrison in Flying magazine talking about the coming revolution in plug in hybrid airplanes. He starts out using hybrid cars as a comparison tool. He says that a Volt's battery pack weighs 700 pounds and provides a calculated output of 21hp for an hour. He finishes the intial discussion saying that a purely electric airplane is not practical but under SOME circumstances, a hybrid airplane might be.

But then he asks the $64,000 question: "What justifies replacing a direct drive internal combustion engine with a system requiring both an engine AND a motor, both batteries and fuel tanks and complex control systems to keep the whole thing transparent to the pilot? It has to be a significant gain in efficiency." 'Alice' won't have an engine so it'll have to really have some powerful batteries.

In an article "Its Time to Kill the Electric Car, Drive a Stake Through it's Heart and Burn the Corpse" by John Petersen, he quotes Thomas Edison from 1883: "The storage battery is one of those peculiar things which appeals to the imagination and no more perfect thing could be desired by stock swindlers then that very selfsame thing. Just as soon as a man gets working on the secondary battery it brings out his latent capacity for lying." Petersen analyzes the statement and says that, "Edison failed to recognize that battery developers don't lie but potential customers consistently lie to themselves when they hear about gee-whiz inventions, overestimate the practical importance of the innovations and then let their imaginations leap from the reasonable to the absurd." He introduced the phrase "hopium induced hallucinations." I think that applies right here in this blog.

He uses the rest of his time to show that "global production of energy resources is several orders of magnitude greater than production of (scarce and) critical metals." The very same stuff used in these high energy density batteries. "The world cannot produce enough (high) technology metals to permit a widespread transition to alternative energy or electric drive, " he says.

He closes his article talking about Moore's Law. He says, "it has no relevance to electric drive because the energy needed to move a given mass a given distance at a given speed is constrained by the laws of physics. Likewise, the number of electrons in a given mass of chemically active material is constrained by the laws of chemistry."

And Jim H ... he addresses the potential for recycling rare metals and the percentage of material potentially able to be recycled for each. Just YOUR point, too. Few think about that.

I'd recommend that readers find these articles and study them. They'll open your eyes to the absolute absurdity of "Alice" ... at this time. Hopium ... personified.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | December 31, 2018 11:30 AM    Report this comment

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