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DHL Express orders 12 all-electric cargo planes from Eviation

DHL Express has ordered 12 all-electric Alice eCargo planes from Eviation. (Earlier post.) Eviation expects to deliver the Alice electric aircraft to DHL Express in 2024.

Dhl-eviation-alice-sky-side

Alice can be flown by a single pilot and will carry 1,200 kilograms (2,600 lbs). It will require 30 minutes or less to charge per flight hour and have a maximum range of up to 815 kilometers (440 nautical miles). Alice will operate in all environments currently serviced by piston and turbine aircraft. Alice’s advanced electric motors have fewer moving parts to increase reliability and reduce maintenance costs. Its operating software constantly monitors flight performance to ensure optimal efficiency.

The aircraft is ideal for feeder routes and requires less investment in station infrastructure. The Alice can be charged while loading and unloading operations occur, ensuring quick turnaround times that maintain DHL Express’ tight schedules.

Alice

My compliments to Eviation on the innovative development of the fully electric Alice aircraft. With Alice’s range and capacity, this is a fantastic sustainable solution for our global network. Our aspiration is to make a substantial contribution in reducing our carbon footprint, and these advancements in fleet and technology will go a long way in achieving further carbon reductions. For us and our customers, this is a very important step in our decarbonization journey and a step forward for the aviation industry as a whole.

—Travis Cobb, EVP Global Network Operations and Aviation for DHL Express

Alice has been specifically designed so that it can be configured for e-cargo or passengers. Eviation’s Alice all-electric aircraft is on track for its first flight later this year.

Comments

Davemart

Very decent!
Lets hope the flights go well.

Davemart

Dunno if they are still using the Kokum battery:

https://www.electrive.com/2018/02/15/eviation-aircraft-sets-sights-kokam-batteries/

But there was a fire:

https://www.flightglobal.com/airframers/eviation-alice-fire-involved-lithium-ion-batteries-which-ignited-after-hours-of-powerplant-tests/141228.article

So the tech is not exactly a slam-dunk

SJC

440 nm at 220 knots with 1200 kg at the same time?

Bob Niland

Has anyone worked out what the total endurance is in hours?

Aircraft which always fly IFR (and that's most scheduled, regardless of weather) are burdened with a typical 1 hour extra endurance requirement (for missed approaches at primary, divert to alt, and then some time there).

In addition, fuels burns off, reducing a/c weight non-trivially en-route. Battery mass doesn't change with discharge. Both of these factors make e-planes a tech challenge at the moment.

Davemart

https://leehamnews.com/2020/03/06/bjorns-corner-why-e-in-eplane-shall-stand-for-environment-part-12/

' You trade energy density (kWh/kg), power discharge capacity (kW) and safety. The cells heat up during charging and discharging. You need a cooling system to keep the cells at less than 60C°. Higher temperatures and you risk a thermal runaway.
To keep the cells under control, you need to monitor temperature and electric data for each cell. A Tesla size battery has 10,000 cells, so a 10 to 100 times larger battery system has quite some controlling gear that shall work at all times.
The battery containment must be able to contain a battery fire from these cells; otherwise, the battery system will destroy the aircraft’s aluminum or carbon fiber structure, which in the air means a crash.
The Formula E races run with carefully designed safety rules and precautions. Mechanics, drivers, and marshals are trained on what to do with unsafe battery systems and there are accident/fire fighting squads spaced around the circuit.
The energy density of these racing batteries is around 0.12 to 0.17 kWh per kg. This is when the battery systems operate at ambient air pressures. What happens at 35,000ft is not known (today’s airliner batteries are inside the pressure vessel). The Alice battery is specified at 0.25 kWh/kg.

We can see there is expertise in the market that can help the 200 UAM/Electric aircraft projects of today. But we also see what risks the technology entails, especially as entrepreneurs start pushing the trades listed above to get their specs to work.

I don’t think the air transport system has any idea on the risk level involved in Electric and Hybrid-Electric aircraft and the trip we have before us to bring the technology to a mature state.

I know Siemens woke up to the risks and decided Rolls-Royce was a better home for its electric aircraft project. Engine OEMs are used to and can manage high-risk developments (the gas turbine had far from a smooth development journey).

Once the accidents start happening, a broader audience will wake up to the risks with the technology and the craze around electric UAMs and aircraft will settle. It has already started.'

Lad

This would be a good platform to test a H2 FC on once they get all the systems working.
I see green hydrogen used in a fuel cell generating a current to directly power the electric motor driven props and to also charge a buffer battery.
Davemart has it right...the problem with BEV aircraft, of today, is the weight penalty of the low energy density batteries.

SJC

They could use LH2 and fuel cells

sd

Yes, you could use hydrogen but the cost would be considerably more. Liquid hydrogen would be a real problem as it is only 20 deg above absolute zero.

Davemart

The issue with fuel cells for aircraft is the high power required for take off, as they don't easily rev up and down.

They need substantial battery back up, so the problems with that are not avoided.

Airbus are going the liquid hydrogen route for medium range though, so they obviously think they can handle the issues with it.

Personally I quite fancy ammonia ICE engines in the application.

sd

@Davemart

Last week I went to the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) airshow in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Airbus had a display with some pretty pictures of future concepts including a blended body medium range aircraft. However, talking to one of their spokespersons, I got the definite impression that they are a long ways from actually building a liquid hydrogen prototype.

Ammonia would probably be easier to deal with. However what I would worry about would be an accident that causes a fuel tank rupture where it does not immediately burn off.

sd

Anyway, I hope that Eviation manages to make the Alice concept work but I would probably bet against a 2024 delivery as they still do not yet have a flying prototype

EVUK_co_uk

Extraordinary how almost no-one anywhere - even now - ever mentions ever-improving, evermore energy-dense supercapacitors aka ultracapacitors. Even top-flight comment-poster Davemart who above does positively reference Rolls Royce ("plc" not BMW-owned RR Motors of course..) fails to mention that Rolls Royce plc joined forces with Superdielectrics UK in 2018. Oh - and in 2019 Superdielectrics registered - on one single day - a record-breaking 14 new off-shoot so-called "Ltd" companies - two of them being:
1) Superdielectrics AUTONOMOUS FLYING VEHICLES Ltd registered at Companies House here :
https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/12272413
and..
2) Superdielectrics ELECTRIC AIRCRAFT Ltd at: https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/12272331
_ And why not take a look at my very own exclusive article here:
http://www.evuk.co.uk/news/index14.html#Superdielectrics_Incorp_14_New_Ltd_Supercap_Companies_in_ONE_day
- But of course the sky isn't the limit for supercaps/ultracaps. The same has been true for batteries of course - but supercaps have so many advantages over batteries - and anyway can be very advantageously combined with batteries.
And - as I say - supercaps are getting evermore energy-dense, have no thermal issues, can deliver massive load-sharing/load-levelling power boosts or power-assists for eg. take-off, acceleration etc etc
Paul G

sd

Supercaps are power dense but not that energy dense.

SJC

Liquid hydrogen has been used for a long time

gryf

Liquid hydrogen has been used for a long time in "Rocket Engines".
Over forty years ago, I had a close up view of the RS-25 LH2/LO2 rocket engine aka Space Shuttle main engine (SSME). A brilliant piece of engineering work.
It was very reliable and with the only in-flight SSME failure occurring during Space Shuttle Challenger STS-51 mission.
LH2 for Space travel definitely, for traveling 10 hours in an Airbus BWB airliner probably not.

SJC

10 hours in an Airbus BWB airliner probably not
The application is regional travel for a few hours

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