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Dovetail opens new facility for electric aircraft development

written by Jake Nelson | April 16, 2024

Dovetail’s Latrobe facility will be used to develop electric aircraft. (Image: Dovetail Electric Aviation)

Electric aviation firm Dovetail has opened a new electric aircraft development centre in Gippsland.

The facility in the Latrobe Aerospace Technology Precinct at Latrobe Regional Airport, backed by investment from the Victorian state government, will be used for Dovetail’s goal of retrofitting regional aircraft with batteries and hydrogen fuel cells for zero-emissions aviation.

“Securing Dovetail Electric Aviation’s footprint in the Latrobe Aerospace Technology Precinct is another win for advanced air mobility in Victoria and our clean energy economy – it will make a valuable contribution to our state’s research and development sector,” said Victoria’s Minister for Economic Growth, Tim Pallas.

Dovetail, which aims to have its first battery-electric powered aircraft certified in 2026, is demonstrating its powertrain prototype at Latrobe and has relocated its headquarters from NSW to Victoria.

David Doral, CEO of Dovetail Electric Aviation, said the company is “honoured” to receive the state government’s support.


“This investment will enable us to accelerate our research and development efforts, bringing us closer to our vision of a sustainable, efficient, and accessible aviation future,” he said.

“As our region transitions from the traditional industries that have underpinned our economy, we are looking towards new industry and innovation.

“Latrobe Aerospace Technology Precinct presents an opportunity to position Latrobe Regional Airport at the forefront of the emerging aviation sector creating new industry and enabling investment and employment opportunities.”

“Council welcomes collaboration with existing and emerging technologies in AAM as we establish this exciting new industry and investment.”

Dovetail has been making waves with its talk of electrification and has partnered with Rex, which holds a 20 per cent stake in the company, to convert several of its 61 Saab 340 turbine aircraft into electric planes.

Rex believes the effect could reduce operating costs by 40 per cent – a major change considering the high expense of regional routes.

In 2022, the airline’s deputy chairman John Sharp said one of Rex’s 34-seat Saab 340s – retrofitted with an electric and hydrogen-powered MagniX engine – will be used to trial the technology on short routes such as Adelaide to Mount Gambier this year.

“We will be doing trials in 2024, with a real aircraft, where we’ll swap out the existing engine, which burns jet fuel,” Sharp told the ABC.

“We’ll put in an electric motor that will be supported by a combination of both batteries and hydrogen.”

Dovetail last year signed a deal with Hyundai Motor Group’s HTWO to supply a hydrogen fuel cell system for trials of electric powertrains.

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