Prescott’s ‘Alice’ all-electric aircraft big hit at Paris Air Show
Local officials on hand in France as prototype of plane unveiled, draws ‘attention worldwide’
An aircraft that is expected to be produced in Prescott debuted on the world air-show stage in June, and city officials say it turned out to be a “darling” of the show.
Prescott Mayor Greg Mengarelli and City Manager Michael Lamar traveled to the Paris Air Show in June to be on hand for the unveiling of “Alice,” the all-electric aircraft that Israeli-based Eviation Aircraft has announced will be built in Prescott.
Although Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval is still a couple of years away, a full-scale prototype of the aircraft has been produced.
It was unveiled at the Paris Air Show — the largest air show in the world — during a press conference conducted by Eviation CEO Omer Bar-Yohay.
Mengarelli and Lamar said media representatives from around the world were interested in the nine-seat aircraft that is geared toward regional travel within 50 to 650 miles.
“It was getting a lot of attention worldwide,” Lamar said this week. “It was kind of the darling of the show.”
Among the points of interest: Alice’s lithium-ion battery system, which will allow for dramatically less-expensive regional air travel.
According to an article in the Paris Airshow News, Alice’s direct operating costs will be $200 per hour, which is about 20% the cost of operating a similarly performing turbo-prop.
TESTING AND FAA APPROVAL
Still, the article added that the new aircraft has an exhaustive testing and FAA-approval process ahead of it.
Leland Moreno-Hilburn, executive director and general manager for
Eviation in Prescott, said Friday, July 12, that the company is on track to get the approval process underway.
“We’re going to begin that process in earnest this fall,” he said.
While much of the flight testing is expected to be done in Moses Lake, Washington, Moreno-Hilburn said a possibility exists that some flight testing also could occur in Prescott.
“It will depend on federal and resource availability,” he said.
Mengarelli noted, though, that plenty of other testing will be done in Prescott.
“They will do all the testing they can do without flying here in Prescott,” he said.
Moreno-Hilburn said locating the Alice manufacturing in Arizona, and specifically in Prescott, made sense because of the state’s focus on aviation.
“Significant relationships can be had in Prescott and the State of Arizona,” he said, referring to the “aviation-centric” supply chain.
Partnerships are already in place with Prescott’s Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, as well as with Phoenix-based Honeywell Aerospace.
After the Paris Air Show, the Alice prototype was being disassembled and shipped back to Eviation’s facility in Prescott.
Mengarelli said the plane should be reassembled by about September, after which he expects an opening to occur at the airport to allow the public to see the aircraft.
Currently, Lamar said, Eviation is leasing a hangar from the city. Eventually, he said, the company plans to build an airport-area campus for manufacture of the aircraft.
Eviation already has an order from regional East Coast airline Cape Air for a series of the $4 million airplanes, and Lamar said Bar-Yohay told him that if the Alice aircraft already had its approval, “He could make more than 100 planes now.”
Lamar added: “The economic impact is the hundreds of jobs that will be created.”
TRAVEL TO PARIS
Mengarelli and Lamar say it was important for them to be on hand at the Paris Air Show for a number of reasons.
“Omer invited Michael and I to go so we could see the plane,” Mengarelli said, noting that the trip also allowed them to build relationships with the Eviation team.
He and Lamar say being there in person not only brought more legitimacy to Prescott, but also allowed them to be on hand in the competitive arena – to ensure against other communities luring away the company.
Mengarelli and Lamar’s trip to Paris was paid for by the city – at a cost of about $8,000. Their family members paid their own expenses.