Ampaire’s Eco Caravan, a nine-seat regional aircraft, successfully completed its first flight as a fully-integrated hybrid-electric propulsion system.

Expected to be the first electrified regional aircraft to enter into commercial service (certification in 2024), the Eco Caravan represents the first in a series of larger Ampaire hybrid-electric aircraft that will lead a transition to sustainable aviation.

Ampaire is already working with the FAA to certify the Eco Caravan in 2024 under a supplemental type certificate (STC).

The Eco Caravan upgrades the standard Cessna Grand Caravan with Ampaire’s integrated propulsion system of a compression ignition engine and an electric engine. A battery pack in a body fairing preserves passenger and cargo capacity for the aircraft.

The flight itself took 33 minutes, setting off from Camarillo Airport north of Los Angeles at 07:49 PST, where it climbed to 3,500ft at full power. Twenty minutes of that time was spent testing various power settings and studying temperatures and other readings before making a descent and approach back down to Camarillo.

“The Eco Caravan propulsion system performed just as expected,” said pilot, Elliot Seguin. “It was smooth and quiet. All temperature and power output readings were normal.”

The first in a new generation of sustainable electrified aircraft

The Eco Caravan’s propulsion technology is scalable to larger regional aircraft and, ultimately, to single-aisle airliners. Ampaire plans to rapidly roll out more powerful propulsion systems for larger aircraft, following a building blocks approach that will dramatically improve the sustainability of airline operations.

“As proud as we are of the Eco Caravan, we see it as a first step to larger hybrid-electric propulsions systems and ultimately zero-emission systems as energy storage technology advances,” said Ampaire CEO Kevin Noertker.