Surf Air to buy hybrid electric aircraft developer


Subsciption-based private charter company Surf Air is to buy electric aircraft developer Ampaire.

Surf Air plans to make Ampaire’s technology, a hybrid-electric powertrain that can be retrofitted to small regional aircraft, available to fleet owners on and off its platform and license the system to manufacturers for new aircraft types.

US-based Ampaire is one of the most advanced developers of hybrid-electric propulsion for aircraft in the world. Last October its Eel aircraft set a new record for the longest electrically-powered flight of a commercial aircraft, with a 341 mile trip between Camarillo Airport north of Los Angeles and Hayward Executive Airport in California, USA.

The Eel is a six-seat Cessna 337 twin-engine aircraft modified with a hybrid-electric propulsion system – an electric motor in the nose and traditional combustion engine in the rear.

The Ampaire / Surf Air hybrid-electric powertrain is being developed for 9- to 19-seat piston and turboprop aircraft, of which there are tens of thousands throughout the world.

Sudhin Shahani, Surf Air Mobility’s co-founder and CEO said, “With this advanced technology we have the opportunity to solve aviation’s biggest problems – operating cost and environmental impact – through electrification.

“We see the near-term opportunity to transform existing turboprop aircraft across the entire industry as the first step to ultimately extend to fully electric aviation across all trip lengths.”

The acquisition comes almost exactly a year after Surf Air bought online charter flight marketplace Blackbird. Surf Air said it is building an “ecosystem” to accelerate the entire industry’s adoption of sustainable flight with its marketplace platform, customer base, and focus on regional routes.

Ampaire CEO Kevin Noertker said, “Working with Surf Air Mobility will allow us to follow the successful path of hybrid electric automobiles and take that model to the sky more quickly.

“It is our intention to be one of the first to make this technology available at scale on both existing and new commercial routes.”

Fred Reid, Surf Air Mobility’s president said, “By focusing on shorter, regional routes in the near term, hybrid electric aircraft will completely transform the way we think about how we travel.”

“By improving the cost structure, we’re able to create a new kind of point-to-point network that opens up previously untenable markets with more direct connections. With half of all U.S. flights 500 miles or less, hybrid electric technology will have an immediate and broad-reaching impact.”

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Ben has worked all of his career as a journalist and now editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry. In the last 20 years he has written on subjects from nuclear submarines and autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies and commercial aviation. Latterly editor of a leading engineering magazine, he brings an eye for a great story and lots of experience to the team.

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