Hybrid cars are the norm in today’s world, but it’s taken a while for that same green technology to penetrate the commercial air travel industry. Textron Aviation is pushing to move that needle with their latest commission for Surf Air Mobility, an electric aviation company pursuing zero-emission air travel.
Textron Aviation’s contribution to this revolutionary movement starts with the delivery of 150 orders of the Cessna Grand Caravan EX single-engine turboprop aircraft to the firm in order to help accelerate development.
This arrangement will be honoured once Surf Air Mobility secures financing and will form part of an exclusive relationship between the two companies to deliver a hybrid electric Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft. In place of the traditional fuel combustion engine will be Surf Air Mobility’s proprietary powertrain technology.
"Hybrid electric propulsion technology, deployed at scale for environmental and commercial benefits, is an important part of the future of travel," explained Ron Draper, President and CEO of Textron Aviation.
"This relationship with Surf Air Mobility leverages the unique performance capabilities of the Cessna Grand Caravan in both passenger and cargo operations and continues to demonstrate the aircraft’s adaptability for innovative missions and configurations."
While Textron Aviation will be providing the crucial platform for this new technology, the hybrid electric Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft will be fully utilised by Surf Air Mobility across its own network. Its goal will be to connect more airports with short-haul direct service across the US as it paves the way for a regional mass transport platform to sustainably connect communities.
"This is an opportunity to showcase the combined expertise and technologies of both Textron Aviation and Surf Air Mobility," added Rob Scholl, Senior Vice President of Textron’s eAviation division.
"The outstanding capabilities and versatility of the Grand Caravan make it an ideal aircraft to take advantage of this new technology."
Choosing this particular platform wasn’t left to chance either. Sudhin Shahani, Co-founder, CEO and Executive Chair of Surf Air Mobility, confirmed the Cessna Grand Caravan EX as one of the most adaptable and prolific aircrafts in flight operation today.
"Through this exclusive relationship with Textron Aviation, we’re able to make electrified aircraft broadly available to existing and new operators and bring the benefits of lower cost, lower emission air travel to customers faster and at scale," he said.
"We believe electrifying the Cessna Grand Caravan is the most significant step that can be made toward reduced emission flying with the quickest path to market."
This unique collaboration between the two firms will be subject to Surf Air Mobility securing financing. Once this formality is complete, deliveries of the Cessna Grand Caravan EX aircraft will begin in the second quarter of 2022.
Surf Air Mobility anticipates that its hybrid electric system for the Grand Caravan, upon certification, will power a nine-seat variant of the renowned single-engine turboprop from Textron Aviation.