An interesting development in battery-electric/hydrogen propulsion aircraft conversion has taken place with the recent partnership formed between Dovetail Electric Aviation and MintAir. MintAir, a South Korean Advanced Mobillity (AAM) service provider, has agreed to purchase from Dovetail up to 10 turbine powered aircraft which have been converted to battery-electric and hydrogen propulsion.
The 10 turbine aircraft will consist initially of battery-powered Cessna Caravans that will be utilized for cargo services on regional routes and later of hydrogen-electric Beechcraft King Airs likely to be used for charter purposes. The exact split of Caravans vs. King Air conversions has yet to be determined.
“Our mission is to develop the safest advanced air mobility service for both urban and regional routes and Dovetail’s practical approach to zero-emission aviation is well-aligned with our mission,” said MintAir founder and Chief Executive Officer, Eugene Choi. “Dovetail’s converted electric aircraft is appealing as a cost-effective workhorse for the regional air transport market.”
To facilitate the conversion, Dovetail will replace the stock Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 turbine engines with magniX electric motors. According to magniX, its electric propuslion units (EPUs) are the only EPUs to be flight-tested in the 350kw to megawatt class. Additionally, MagniX's engines are electron agnostic, meaning they are capable of being powered by any electric power source including hydrogen.
magniX engine mock-up (Image: magniX)
Hydrogen has acquired significant interest due to producing zero carbon emissions and having a high energy density. This density is vital in providing a greater range and weight capacity than other electric options.
"The future of sustainable aviation will require a mix of solutions," said Nuno Taborda, CEO of magniX. "We are bringing our experience and expertise to advance hydrogen fuel cell technology which will enable us to power even more aircraft."
MagniX only recently announced its foray into the hydrogen-electric market, so it might be a bit before Dovetail is able to make the King Air hydrogen-electric conversion. Dovetail plans to obtain supplemental type certification for the Caravan conversion by 2025.
“Our mission is to develop the safest advanced air mobility service for both urban and regional routes and Dovetail’s practical approach to zero-emission aviation is well-aligned with that,” says MintAir founder and chief executive Eugene Choi. “Dovetail’s converted electric aircraft is appealing as a cost-effective workhorse for the regional air transport market.”
About companies mentioned:
Dovetail is a joint venture consisting of Spain's Dante Aeronautical and Australian firm Sydney Aviation Holdings. It has a total of 65 commitments from customers for electric aircraft conversions.The company website is www.dovetail.aero. They provided the King Air mock-up banner image.
MintAir says they are South Korea's first electric aviation service with numerous ongoing Urban Air Mobility (UAM) projects. The company website is https://www.mintair.kr/en.
And magniX has been on the forefront of electric propulsion with having the only technology to be flight-tested in the 350kw to 650kw class. The company website is https://www.magnix.aero/.