Electric powertrain developer Ampaire has scored its first order from a major airline, with Brazil’s Azul signing a letter of intent for up to six Eco Caravan conversions.
Azul Conecta, the carrier’s regional unit, already operates a fleet of 27 nine-seat Cessna Grand Caravans, serving 84 destinations within Brazil with the single-engined turboprop.
Ampaire’s Eco Caravan upgrade replaces the stock Pratt & Whitney PT6 engine with its AMP-H570 hybrid-electric powertrain – which includes an electric motor, a Red Aircraft thermal engine, and Electric Power Systems battery pack.
No value for the deal or delivery timeline was immediately disclosed.
“After evaluating a range of technologies, including full-electric and hydrogen fuel cells, we concluded that Ampaire moves us toward our [sustainability] goals much sooner,” says Flavio Costa, Azul Conecta chief executive.
“Azul Conecta has innovation as a mission and sees the upgrade to the Eco Caravan as a major innovation that accelerates our path to sustainability, maintaining a safety standard in our operations.”
The pair will work in tandem to develop charging infrastructure across Azul Conecta’s bases and at other airports. The airline will also provide services to other Eco Caravan operators throughout South America.
Ampaire flew its first Eco Caravan in November 2022; it hopes to gain US supplemental type certification for the modification in 2024. The California-based firm will subsequently work with Azul Conecta to gain approval from Brazilian regulator ANAC.