To make a delivery in the remote town of Hana on the Hawaiian island of Maui, it’s easier to fly a small plane than drive along the switchback-filled road that connects to the main part of the island. Later this year, the route may become the first place that a commercial airline flies an electric plane. Ampaire , an L.A.-based electric plane startup, plans to begin its first tests of a Cessna retrofitted with an electric drivetrain in the first half of this year. Then it plans to partner with Mokulele Airlines , which flies short routes in Hawaii, for further tests. The route to Hana is one potential test location. By 2021–as soon as the company gets FAA approval–passengers will be able to book a flight on one of the planes. Unlike some other startups working on small electric planes, Ampaire isn’t launching with a plane designed from scratch. “The core of the mission for our company is to build practical and compelling products that bring meaningful solutions as quickly as possible,” says Kevin Noertker, cofounder and CEO of Ampaire. While a new-build airplane might take $200 million dollars and 10 years of development and certification, he says, […]

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