Australia’s Dovetail Electric Aviation has secured financial backing from the government of Victoria, the latest in a series of investments for the fledgling zero-emission powertrain developer.

Details of the “non-dilutive” funding from Invest Victoria have not been disclosed, but the figure is “significant”, says Dovetail, a joint venture between Sydney Seaplanes and Dante Aeronautical in Spain.

Cessna Caravan-c-Textron Aviation

Source: Textron Aviation

Initial conversion focus is on Cessna Caravan

A number of milestones are attached to the investment, it says, the first of which is the finalisation of the company’s prototype hydrogen-electric powertrain.

On the back of the state government’s support, Dovetail has moved its headquarters to Victoria, where it has a presence in Melbourne and Latrobe, from its previous site in New South Wales.

Dovetail is a tenant of the Latrobe Aerospace Technology Precinct – located at Latrobe Regional airport, around 87 miles (140km) southeast of Melbourne – where it has begun testing its new hydrogen fuel-cell powertrain.

Although the firm intends to initially bring to market in 2026 an all-electric propulsion system to convert in-service sub-regional aircraft – starting with the Cessna Caravan – it sees the fuel cell powertrain as vital to extending aircraft range and payload in future.

Ground tests of the full hydrogen fuel cell powertrain have taken place, says Dovetail, which produces around 100kW of power. Batteries will be used to top up the system to reach “flight power”, it says.

The Caravan’s stock Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 thermal engine produces up to 675hp (503kW).

A maiden sortie of the full-electric powertrain is due in the first quarter of 2025, with supplemental type certification targeted the following year.

“We are honoured to receive the support of the State Government of Victoria. This investment will enable us to accelerate our research and development efforts, bringing us closer to our vision of a sustainable, efficient, and accessible aviation future,” says Dovetail chief executive David Doral.

Dovetail has previously attracted investment from Spanish aerostructures supplier Aciturri, Australian regional carrier Rex, and Spanish airlines Air Nostrum and Volotea. More than $7.5 million was pledged in its recent seed funding round.