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All-electric aircraft maker sees 'America First' opportunity as it wins first US customer

Nick Robertson
Senior Producer

Flying “green” will soon hit the blue skies of the U.S. aviation industry.

Eviation Aircraft’s “Alice” — an all-electric, 9-passenger plane — has made a big mark at the 2019 Paris Airshow. The Israeli-based startup won its first commercial order with Cape Air — a U.S. regional airline that serves 35 destinations in the U.S. and the Caribbean.

“In our case, the market — especially for general aviation for smaller planes — is so predominantly American, that it’s truly an ‘America First’ situation,” Eviation CEO Omer Bar-Yohay told Yahoo Finance’s “The Ticker” on Thursday. “The plane is built all over the world. It’s integrated for [going to] market in the U.S.”

The “green” air race

With U.S. and international air travel demand steadily climbing — along with the pollution that comes with it — the race is on for the next generation of aircraft that can reduce carbon emissions while remaining economically viable.

LE BOURGET, FRANCE - JUNE 16, 2019: An Eviation Alice prototype electric aircraft on display the day before the opening of the 2019 Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport. Marina Lystseva/TASS (Photo by Marina Lystseva\TASS via Getty Images)

Eviation believes that it has a significant head start against its relatively nascent competition. “This is one of those occasions where ‘green’ actually makes economic sense,” according to Bar-Yohay. “The major differentiator for this aircraft is not just the fact that it’s sustainable and green — but the fact that it’s cheaper to operate,” he adds.

But the aerospace giants are not idly standing by. United Technologies (UTX) has launched development of a hybrid-electric plane mysteriously dubbed “Project 804.” Meanwhile, Boeing (BA) has invested in the hybrid-electric aircraft startup Zunum Aero, though that company reportedly ran into financing trouble earlier this year.

With the hybrid-electric aviation market worth up to $178 billion dollars by 2040 according to UBS, the green aircraft race only stands to intensify. “We do believe that within the next five or six years you’re going to see not just us, but a lot of competition, working its way toward regional flights that are electric,” says Bar-Yohay.

Eviation has the 650-mile range “Alice” slated for test flights this year. It’s aiming for certification in 2021, with commercial flights beginning in 2022. Will it stay one step (or wingspan) in front of its rivals?

Watch above for more.

Nick Robertson is a senior producer at Yahoo Finance.

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