A prototype, all-electric airplane took its first flight in central Washington state.
The Seattle Times reports that if the Federal Aviation Administration eventually certifies the small airplane to carry passengers, it could become the first all-electric commercial airplane.
The plane, built by startup Eviation, was built to carry nine passengers and up two pilots. It took off from Moses Lake, Washington, at 7:10 a.m. Tuesday, and landed eight minutes later.
The company’s goal is to show such electric planes are viable as commuter aircraft flying at an altitude of about 15,000 feet (4,572 meters).
The plane, designed by engineers in Washington state and Israel, is powered by 21,500 small Tesla-style battery cells.
“This is history,” Gregory Davis, Eviation’s president and CEO, told CNN Business.”We have not seen the propulsion technology change on the aircraft since we went from the piston engine to the turbine engine. It was the 1950s that was the last time you saw an entirely new technology like this come together.”
With battery technology similar to that of an electric car or a cell phone and 30 minutes of charging, the nine-passenger Alice will be able to fly for one hour, and about 440 nautical miles. The plane has a max cruise speed of 250 knots, or 287 miles per hour. For reference, a Boeing 737 has a max cruise speed of 588 miles per hour.