EP Systems was selected to provide the propulsion battery packs for Ampaire's Eco Caravan. (Photo: Electric Power Systems)
Ampaire, a Los Angeles-based company that upgrades existing aircraft to hybrid-electric power, recently announced that it has selected Electric Power Systems to supply propulsion battery packs for the Eco Caravan aircraft. The Eco Caravan is a hybrid-electric upgrade of the Cessna Grand Caravan that has a nine-passenger capacity. Ampaire is pursuing type certification of the aircraft with the Federal Aviation Administration, and expects to receive supplemental type certification in 2024.
Michael Duffy, VP of Product Development for Electric Power Systems, remarked in a statement to Avionics on the announcement about Ampaire’s selection of the company to provide batteries for the Eco Caravan. “We believe that Ampaire’s Eco Caravan will be the first passenger carrying hybrid electric aircraft to reach certification in the United States,” Duffy said.
“EP Systems and Ampaire have worked together in previous projects, and we are excited to continue our support of Ampaire on their path to complete certification through rigorous flight testing.”
EP Systems offers an energy storage system called EPiC which will be integrated into the Eco Caravan. Other battery systems from EP are already being used to power manned and unmanned aircraft, such as the Embraer Ipanema, the Boeing CAV, the NASA X-57, the Diamond eDA-40, and the Aurora Flight Sciences Pegasus.
EP Systems’ EPiC products include EPiC Power, a 180Wh/kg lithium-ion battery system, and EPiC Energy, which has a 205Wh/kg energy density rating.
EP Systems has been selected to develop and manufacture battery systems for the SD-05 air taxi from SkyDrive. Hyundai’s Supernal also recently chose EP Systems as its first vehicle partner. Supernal and EP Systems will collaborate to develop lightweight batteries that will power electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) systems like Supernal’s aircraft.
Ampaire's hybrid-electric retrofit of a Cessna Skymaster, the Electric EEL demonstrator (Photo: Ampaire)
Nathan Millecam, EP Systems Founder and CEO, commented on the collaboration with Ampaire, saying, “Ampaire’s practical approach to electrification is the start of a transportation revolution. We share a vision of lowering costs for aircraft operators and their passengers, while moving as quickly as possible to zero emissions aviation.”
In addition to the EPiC energy storage system, the Eco Caravan’s integrated parallel hybrid-electric propulsion system will also use the RED Aircraft AO3 series compression ignition engine. Dr. Susan Ying, Ampaire’s SVP of Global Partnerships, recently told Avionics in an emailed statement that the Eco Caravan will make its first flight by the end of 2022.
According to Ampaire, its EEL demonstrator aircraft completed the longest nonstop flight performed by a hybrid-electric aircraft in July. The EEL is a retrofit of the Cessna 337 Skymaster. The 1,135-mile journey took place along the route from Camarillo Airport in California to Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The EEL testbed aircraft incorporates a prototype of the EPiC system.