A South Australian company is set to unveil what it bills as Australia’s first commercially-produced electric aircraft at the Adelaide Motorsport Festival this weekend.
The E22 Spark aircraft, built by Adelaide-based Bader Aero, is a two-seater with 180m takeoff, a max range of 300+ kilometres, up to 90-minute flight time, and a cruising speed of 110 to 130 knots.
Its 100+ kilowatt motors are made in Australia and feature stackable options for redundancy, as well as modular configurations to allow key components, including batteries, to be quickly changed out.
According to Bader Aero’s chief commercial officer, Barrie Rogers, the E22 Spark could be a “game-changer” for flight training – especially in circuit training, a key part of obtaining a pilot’s licence.
“We already have an agreement with Parafield Airport-based Hartwig Air to produce up to six of these aircraft for flight training purposes, and we’ve received interest from elsewhere in Australia as well as an initial order from New Zealand,” he said.
“The aircraft uses lithium-ion battery technology. We’ve made significant strides in reducing the weight, which is a key consideration in the development of this aircraft, and we’ll keep improving and refining the aircraft through ongoing research and development.
“If just one per cent of the flight training fleet were powered by electricity, in a single year, we could offset 58,000 tonnes of CO2e emissions. This is equivalent to the emissions produced from powering 11,285 homes for a year.”
The Australian government has been making moves to support electric aviation. Another firm, Dovetail, was awarded a $3 million grant in January under the Cooperative Research Centres Projects (CRC-P) program to fully electrify its turbine-powered planes.
Ed Husic, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, said electric aviation would be a huge boon for the country’s carbon reduction efforts.
“Electric aviation has the potential to be a game-changer for regional transport as Australia pushes to meet our emissions targets,” he said.
“I am pleased to announce support for 19 outstanding projects through the CRC-P initiative to assist them progress [sic] towards commercialisation.”
Major airline Rex has also announced plans to trial battery- and hydrogen-powered aircraft on short regional routes of under an hour by mid-next year.