Electric jet startup could become ‘Uber in the sky’


Eviation Aircraft chief executive Omer Bar-Yohay pictures a day not too far away when summoning a bargain plane ride with a smartphone will be as easy as hailing Uber.

The Israel-based startup working on a self-piloting, electric aircraft was at the WSJD Live conference here Tuesday with a vision of “Uber meeting Tesla in the sky.”

Bar-Yohay spoke of a future in which people could take Uber to a regional airport, then use another smartphone application to summon an Eviation electric plane to whisk them inexpensively to destinations hundreds of miles away.

Eviation was at the Paris Air Show earlier this year with a small-scale prototype, and is intent on returning with a full-scale electric aircraft capable of carrying passengers in 2019.

Funding takeoff

Co-founders were at the Wall Street Journal technology conference to rustle up funding, with a goal of about US$20mil

The startup founded about two years ago has been paying its way out of pocket, with some help from the Israeli government, going through about US$10mil to date, according to Bar-Yohay.

The new infusion of cash will be used as fuel in a race to be first to market with an electric airplane, this one designed to carry up to nine passengers and two crew members.

Instead of spending hours in a car travelling hundreds of miles, an electric plane summoned on-demand to a regional airport would get passengers to far-away destinations quickly and inexpensively.

Eviation is out to take advantage of small, typically underutilised regional airports, making them lift-off spots for on-demand flights.

Electric components for airplanes are a fraction of the cost of comparable parts for engines in traditional aircraft, and are more reliable, according to Bar-Yohay.

Eviation plane batteries are spread out in more than a dozen places, so “no matter what hits you, some part of the aircraft will have the power to keep going, according to Bar-Yohay.

The expected range of the Eviation plane will be about 650 miles (1,050km).

The vision is to have the aircraft be self-piloting, so it could be summoned by an app or be available as desired for people who pool resources to buy one.





Source:  News agencies