An Israel-based company called Eviation is working on an all-electric aircraft known as "Alice ."
The Evation Alice, a nine-passenger commuter plane expected to enter service in 2023, has a cruise speed of 220 knots true airspeed (over 250 miles per hour) and a range of 440 nautical miles. Made of 95% composite materials, the aircraft has three electric motors, a V-tail, and a lithium-ion battery offering up to 920 kilowatt hours (kwh).
A commercial jet has a cruise speed of about 400 – 500 knots, or between 460 and 575 miles per hour.
Will the cruise speed of an electric airliner like Alice ever match that of a jet?
In a Tech Briefs webcast titled "Designing for an All-Electric Aircraft Future," a reader asks an expert from Argonne National Laboratory, a U.S. Dept. of Energy facility based just outside of Chicago.
"Can the cruise speed of an electric airliner match that of a jet?"
Read the response below from Argonne's Technical Manager Dominik Karbowski.
Dominik Karbowski, Technical Manager, Intelligent Eco-Mobility, Vehicle and Mobility Systems Group: One of the earlier aircraft that I mentioned [the Eviation Alice] goes about 240 knots, which is about a little bit higher than half of that of a big jet, although this is a much smaller aircraft.
I think most of the developments on what the speeds are, are more focused really right now on the smaller aircraft and the conceptual studies. The bigger aircraft are not as common yet.
The battery density right now is one of the key botttlenecks, (approximately 250 watt-hour per kilogram). We right now can still only do very small aircraft, so we'll need to wait for a leap in that field to get bigger aircraft.
Maybe we'll have hybrid aircraft, which will combine electric and electric propulsion with jet engines, so that could also be step toward that.
What do you think about electric aircraft? Share your questions and comments below.