Deutsche Post, otherwise known as DHL, wants to be the first courier service with its own airborne EV fleet. The company has ordered 12 all-electric planes from American EV aircraft company, Eviation. The model making up the proposed electric fleet is the new (read: untested) Alice eCargo plane, which is still awaiting its maiden voyage.
The courier company says the Alice will go on its first flight this year, and Eviation expects to deliver the fleet to DHL in 2024. That’s the courier’s projected timeline for establishing the world’s first “electric air cargo network,” according to Reuters.
DHL says it’s the first company to submit orders for the aircraft from the Seattle-based Eviation. The design of the Alice was meant to be modular from the beginning, in order to accommodate either passengers or cargo.
So, it’s a good fit for both companies. The Alice planes can be flown by a single pilot and can carry up to 2,600 pounds. That’s way less than the bigger planes DHL flies, like its Boeing 777s. As the Alice planes are much smaller, DHL says it will use them for feeder routes in California just for starters, according to Bloomberg.
Basically, these smaller planes will get cargo to and from larger hubs. The Alice planes will supposedly have a range of up to 440 nautical miles, and they are designed to fly at a max speed of 220 knots. The charge rate is around 30 minutes per flight hour, but that rate is not such a pressing concern on an aircraft that’s ferrying cargo.
The courier company tells Bloomberg the planes can be charged while they are being either loaded or unloaded, and I can’t think of a better scenario for EV downtime than a stationary aircraft awaiting cargo transfer.
DHL has an ambitious goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, and this is is just another step along the way. At the very least, it gives me another reason to feel better about paying their high delivery prices, other than simply liking their red and yellow livery — and, to be fair, their comparatively faster delivery times.