Spanish Airlines Is Supporting The Conversion Of Regional Aircraft To Electric Propulsion
A supplementary type certificate is needed to convert the battery-powered Caravan, and deliveries will begin in 2025, according to the partners. Their goal is to get approval for another hydrogen fuel cell-powered aircraft by the next year, and between 2027 and 2028, they will add retrofits for King Air, Twin Otter, and C212 aircraft.
This company had an initial business plan centered on the development of a new hybrid electric 19-seat regional airliner called DAX-19 that would achieve type certification in 2033, but it has now pushed this back to 2029.
Accordant to Dante, Monte is purchasing 50 converted aircraft on an undisclosed basis, including battery-powered Caravans and hydrogen-powered King Airs.
As part of the battery electric conversion, MagniX's motors and batteries will initially be provided by Mobius Energy. MagniX will be distributed exclusively in Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific, and Europe by Dovetail and Dante under an agreement signed in late 2021. In most cases, the companies will serve as system integrators for propulsion conversion projects.
A fixed-wing aircraft would only be able to fly 80 to 100 km (50 to 60 miles) with an initial battery electric propulsion system. They say this is sufficient for sightseeing flights, but with improved battery technology and a hydrogen fuel cell system, the range could be extended to around 500 km. In 2024, Dovetail plans to start flying a hydrogen test bed aircraft based on the King Air.
Recent weeks have seen Dante sign provisional agreements to sell 10 aircraft to Mint Air of South Korea, as well as 65 aircraft to Sydney Seaplanes of Australia. Sydney Aviation Holdings, the parent company of Sydney Seaplanes and Dante, founded its partner Dovetail in 2021. Rex Airlines has recently invested in Dovetail.
In the 9- to 19-seat category, Dovetail estimates there are approximately 16,000 small commercial aircraft available for conversion worldwide. Based on lower maintenance costs, including engine overhauls, it claims that converting these models to electric propulsion could result in a 40 percent reduction in operating costs.
The electric conversions market is booming
As well as Dante and Dovetail, several other start-ups are striving to convert the same existing aircraft models into electric or hybrid-electric models in an increasingly crowded market. There are also U.S.-based companies such as Ampaire that have received provisional Monte orders and are seeking additional funding.
Meanwhile, ZeroAvia and Universal Hydrogen have both developed plans to convert existing commuter planes, like the Dash 8 and the ATR, to hydrogen propulsion. Major airlines and other investors have invested millions of dollars in both of these companies.
A Dovetail conversion center will open in Australia by 2024; a Dante conversion center will open in Spain by 2025. Dante and Dovetail will also open facilities on the Middle Eastern continent later on.
Former Airbus and Boeing engineers David Doral and Aaron Shaw co-founded Dovetail and Dante, as did Roei Ganzarski, CEO of MagniX and chairman of Eviation, an electric aircraft developer.