Maeve Aerospace, an aircraft startup backed by the Dutch government, is developing an 80-seater hybrid-electric plane as part of broader efforts within the aviation sector to reduce carbon emissions.1
The aircraft, originally launched in 2022 as the Echelon 01 and later rebranded as the Maeve 01, has undergone several redesigns. The latest adjustments include an oval-shaped body, shorter wings and the replacement of four electric motors with two hybrid-electric engines.
According to the company, the M80 aircraft will have an expected range of 1,482 kilometers and a 40% reduction in fuel burn compared to similarly sized regional jets. While the original timeline for the Maeve 01 was to fly in 2028 and obtain certification by 2030, the changes have extended the concept phase to mid-2026, with type approval and customer deliveries now slated for 2031.2
The maximum take-off weight is now set at 28.9 tons, with a maximum payload of 8.5 tons. The company aims to replace Bombardier CRJ-series jets or the De Havilland Canada Dash 8 twin-turboprop with the M80, targeting jet performance to attract interest from operators.
Alongside the aircraft design changes, Maeve is expanding its footprint by opening a new German engineering office near Munich in 2023. The location of the M80's final assembly line is yet to be decided.
As airlines and aircraft manufacturers face increasing pressure to adopt decarbonization measures, Europe is experimenting with new aviation technologies, driven by the European Union's commitment to achieving climate neutrality in the bloc's economy by 2050.
At the same time in the United States, ongoing initiatives to develop zero-emission aircraft are gaining momentum. Surf Air Mobility Inc. (NYSE:SRFM), the largest commuter airline in the US in terms of scheduled departures, is taking a lead role in reshaping regional air travel by dedicating itself to electrification.
Revolutionizing Regional Air Travel Through Electrification
Based in Los Angeles, Surf Air Mobility Inc. (NYSE:SRFM) operates as a regional air mobility platform with the mission of transforming regional air travel through the adoption of electrification.
The company's goal is to significantly decrease the cost and environmental impact associated with air travel. Surf Air Mobility is actively collaborating with commercial partners to advance powertrain technology, which it believes will enable the electrification of existing fleets and the widespread introduction of new electric aircraft to the market. The management team brings extensive expertise in aviation, electrification, and consumer technology to the forefront of this endeavor.
Surf Air Mobility recently inked an agreement with Purdue University to launch a privately subsidized commuter air service connecting West Lafayette/Purdue University Airport (LAF) and Chicago O'Hare Airport (ORD). The anticipated start date for this commuter air service is early in the second quarter of 2024. Purdue University is providing funding to support the program's establishment and ongoing operations, aiming to offer convenient and efficient connections for students, faculty, staff, families, and the community between West Lafayette and Chicago O'Hare, the fourth busiest airport in America.
The flight operations for this program will be managed by Southern Airways Express, an airline subsidiary of Surf Air Mobility. The collaboration aims to provide up to four daily flights, eliminating the need for a lengthy drive by allowing travelers arriving at O'Hare to fly directly to West Lafayette.
This initiative mirrors the model established by Surf Air Mobility through its existing federal contracts in the Essential Air Service (EAS) program, which offers subsidized routes to connect underserved communities. The partnership with Purdue University replicates the EAS model but involves a private institution, removing the necessity for federal funding and bringing essential air service to an underserved regional airport.
Were excited to take the basic principle of the EAS program and build on its success with Purdue University. We hope this will be a model we can replicate with other non-urban universities and private companies in the future, said Stan Little, CEO of Surf Air Mobility. As the growth in Regional Air Mobility continues, partners like Purdue University will be integral to accelerating a new kind of mass transportation solution that uses smaller aircraft connecting smaller regional airports to the nations air infrastructure.
The newly signed deal will reinstate regular flights on this route after almost 20 years, scheduling 24 round-trip flights each week. Southern Airways will conduct these flights with their Cessna Grand Caravan turboprop planes, accommodating nine passengers and two pilots. Travelers from West Lafayette will benefit from hassle-free transfers at the hub, due to Southern's partnership agreements with major airlines like United, American, and Alaska. For convenience, tickets are available for purchase on prominent airline websites such as United.com, AA.com, and AlaskaAir.com.
Purdue University's contribution includes providing the use of its refurbished passenger terminal, hangar space, and ramp access for Southern's personnel. Additionally, Southern will offer job opportunities to qualified students both before and after graduation, with Purdue having the opportunity to recoup some or all of its investment should passenger counts exceed projected levels.
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