California-based Ampaire Inc. has selected Germany’s RED Aircraft GmbH as the reciprocating supplier for its hybrid-electric Cessna Eco Caravan.
Announced at EAA Airventure, the partnership includes RED Aircraft’s AO3 series compression ignition engine, rated to 550 hp, and Ampaire’s electrical system for peak power. RED Aircraft will develop and supply Jet A/sustainable aviation fuel (SAF)-compatible engine subsystems to Ampaire as part of the partnership’s goal to commercialize electric-propulsion aircraft for applications up to 800 hp.
“RED Aircraft sees enormous potential for hybrid-electric aircraft and believes the Eco Caravan is just the first step to bringing a new level of efficiency and vastly lower emissions to a large swath of aviation,” said Jürgen Schwarz, CEO of RED. “We are thrilled to be pursuing these opportunities hand-in-hand with Ampaire.”
The Cessna Eco Caravan serves as the first aircraft to receive the new propulsion system, but many more hybrid-electric fixed-wing aircraft are in development.
“The modern, powerful, and ultra-fuel-efficient RED engines have exactly the right characteristics for the Eco Caravan’s hybrid-electric propulsion system and for many other upgrades or all-new designs we may pursue,” said Ampaire CEO Kevin Noertker. “We are very pleased to take this first step in collaboration with a company that shares our goal to decarbonize aviation while reducing costs for aircraft operators and their passengers.”
Ampaire is not the first to electrify a Caravan, however. In 2020, electric propulsion designer Magnix and flight test specialist AeroTEC developed a fully-electric Cessna 208B Caravan. The aircraft’s maiden flight only lasted 30 minutes, restricting it to short distances.
Also, Pipistrel’s fully electric Velis Electro two-seater has been type certificated by EASA, and is being used as a trainer in the U.S. In Colorado, Bye Aerospace said recently it’s making significant progress toward key approvals to certificate its fully electric eFlyer 2 two-seater.
H2 About the Aircraft
According to Ampaire, the Eco Caravan will offer several benefits, including:
- fuel consumption reduced up to 70 percent
- Jet A/SAF compatible engine
- lower initial engine and maintenance costs
- up to 40 percent lower operating costs.
Ampaire was formed in 2016 to upgrade existing passenger aircraft to hybrid-electric vehicles in order to push the aviation industry towards net-zero emissions. RED, or Raikhlin Engine Developments, was founded in 1995 by Vladimir Raikhlin and is based in Adenau, Germany.