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What’s New in Advanced Air Mobility? Highlights from 2023

Date: January 15, 2024 Category: Blog Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
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The “Third Evolution of Flight” is taking off, and Hartzell Propeller is proud to be a part of several prominent Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) and electric/hybrid flight programs shaping the future of aviation.

What’s new in the fascinating world of AAM and electric flight? Take a look at some of the milestones from 2023:

Universal Hydrogen Completes First Flight

In May, Universal Hydrogen made history with the first flight of the largest-ever hydrogen fuel cell-powered aircraft. The 40-passenger De Havilland Dash 8-300 hydrogen fuel cell-powered testbed, fondly nicknamed Lightning McClean, flew for 15 minutes and reached an altitude of 3,500 MSL.

Hartzell Propeller designed and tested a 91-inch diameter five-blade swept airfoil carbon fiber propeller for this aircraft, utilizing derivative blades, hub and retention components from an existing CFR Part 35 certified propeller. When the jet fuel-powered turbine engine was throttled back during the first flight to demonstrate cruise principally on hydrogen power, this specially designed Hartzell propeller provided thrust to keep the aircraft airborne. Hartzell also customized a governor for the aircraft.

Alice Aircraft during test flight

Image courtesy of Eviation

All-Electric Alice Aircraft Gains Orders

After a successful maiden test flight in 2022, Eviation Aircraft’s all-electric commuter prototype, the Alice, is undergoing subtle design refinements as it continues its path to certification and production. To date, Eviation has a conditional backlog of orders valued at more than $5 billion, with letters of intent from companies such as Cape Air and DHL Express.

Designed from the ground up for electric flight, the Alice is powered by two magni650 electric propulsion units and lightweight structural composite 5-blade Hartzell propellers. Eviation aims to start certification test flights in 2025 and make its first aircraft delivery by 2027.

Beta Expands Aircraft Fleet, Opens Production Facility

In March 2023, AAM developer Beta Technologies announced plans to add a second electric aircraft to its fleet — a fixed-wing CX300 electric conventional-takeoff-and-landing aircraft (eCTOL). In October 2023, the company opened a new manufacturing facility designed for a production rate of up to 300 aircraft per year. FAA certification of the eCTOL is targeted for 2025.

Beta is also continuing development of its initial Alia-250 eVTOL prototype, which is planned for certification in 2026. Both versions are 80% common and will be built on the same tooling. Hartzell Propeller is proud to partner with Beta Technologies to provide lightweight structural composite blades for the next-generation aircraft.

National Advanced Air Mobility Center of Excellence Opens

2023 marked the official opening of the state-of-the-art National Advanced Air Mobility Center of Excellence (NAAMCE). The new center is designed to facilitate collaboration between the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), the Ohio Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center, NASA, and industry and academia in support of advanced air mobility (AAM) projects, including the development of new electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.

Located at the Springfield-Beckley Airport (within an hour’s drive of Hartzell Propeller), the NAAMCE further solidifies Ohio’s position as a hub for collaboration, innovation, research and development within the Advanced Air Mobility industry. 

Working on an AAM Project? Hartzell is Here to Help.

With an innovative blend of sophisticated certification skills, engineering analytics, and world-class manufacturing expertise, Hartzell Propeller is uniquely qualified to assist in the creation of custom propeller applications for electric, hybrid-electric, and alternative propulsion aircraft.

Tell us a bit about your project, and our Advanced Air Mobility Specialist, Mitch Heaton, will be in touch with you soon!

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