Los Angeles-based Ampaire publicly demonstrated its electric propulsion system with a 25-minute flight yesterday afternoon of its 337 Ampaire from Camarillo Airport (CMA), the company announced. The aircraft is a push-pull Cessna 337 Skymaster with a proprietary, battery-powered electric motor replacing one of its two combustion engines.
While yesterday marked the first public test flight of the 337 Ampaire, it’s not the airplane’s first flight. An earlier flight lasted one hour and 11 minutes, product manager Brice Nzeukou told AIN.
Ampaire intends to offer its electric motor and lightweight battery system as a retrofit to certified aircraft, Nzeukou explained. The 337 is a platform the company likes as a testbed because the combustion engine offers a “kind of risk reduction” in flight testing and the type makes it “really easy to test an electric propulsion system,” he added. ”For a development platform, it gives us a lot of flexibility.”
A 50 to 70 percent reduction in fuel costs and a 25 to 50 percent savings in maintenance costs are expected with Ampaire’s hybrid-electric configuration, according to Nzeuko. Initially, the company plans to offer the system to short-haul regional airlines serving remote communities and island regions.
Later this year, Ampaire expects to begin a pilot project on a commercial route in Maui, Hawaii, using a newly retrofitted Cessna 337. It also will collaborate with Vieques Air Link, a regional airline in Puerto Rico, for a second pilot project. Combined, Ampaire has signed 16 letters of interest with 15 other airlines across the world.