New Eviation CEO says regional segment ‘ripe for disruption’
Regional air mobility is ripe for disruption, according to Eviation’s newly-arrived CEO Andre Stein.
Outlining the key principles behind his vision for the electric aircraft developer in his first interview since joining, Stein says he “buys into the idea of commencing disruptive innovation from the entry level.
“This is an exciting new adventure for me,” he tells us. “Looking forward to it. I’ve known Eviation for quite a while looking from the outside. They have such a great pragmatic approach towards this market that exists inside an existing regulatory framework. Eviation is targeting a market ripe for disruption as well.
“So electrification right now is ripe for the CTOL segment. There is movement for revolution even in such a resilient segment as fixed-wing regional air travel. Struggles in this area have been addressed previously with older platforms, and this is where we bring about a change and a fresh approach,” he explained.
After 25 years at Embraer, including the co-founding of eVTOL developer Eve Air Mobility, does Stein have more confidence in the conventional approach adopted by Eviation? “We don’t tend to compare,” he says. “But we should not all be doing the same thing, there is space for both. I also think both address the same point which I just made, that aviation is ripe for disruption on the smaller side. The technology is not there yet to replace larger aircraft to fly hundreds of people for thousands of kilometres, but we can fly a smaller amount of seats over smaller distances. And that is the same principle for eVTOLs and what we are doing here at Eviation.
“Having the regulatory framework in place does make life a bit easier though, and there is an existing market there too. It is also a market we can improve a lot through electrification,” adds Stein.
As well as offering better regional connectivity, the new CEO also highlighted the “better” passenger experience onboard Eviation’s Alice aircraft versus today’s options. “People might be nervous of smaller aircraft, and may associate this size of aircraft with general aviation and not something they are used to with a bigger airplane. Now we are able to provide the experience of a much larger platform with our aircraft.”
The cabin renderings, in terms of quality, do not look dissimilar to a business jet, however Stein assures us “it is a lot more sustainable” than today’s corporate aircraft. “It will definitely offer a change in passenger experience, flying on our aircraft.” As well as its main focus in addressing the commuter market, Eviation is developing a version of the Alice targeted at making private aviation travel more sustainable, says Stein.
The firm is also looking at cargo too. “There is an expectation to buy online and receiving your goods next day (at least) and we believe our aircraft in cargo configuration is the right size to assist in making such deliveries possible and more sustainable,” he says.
The incumbent CEO has been “drinking from the firehose” during his first days in charge. He says focus is now largely on the winding road to certification and commercial service. “Even for me to be here in this moment is a massive opportunity. We are focused on progressing certification and industrialisation. This is so that we can enter service with not only a product that is certified but also a clear differentiation in the market. Being laser-focused on delivering, that is really our goal right now. It is the next step for Eviation as we grow.”
The immediate plan to achieve this centres around continued testing of the technology. Eviation made global headlines back in September 2022 when it’s Alice became the first electric passenger aircraft to fly. It ascended to 3,500ft with a total flight time of eight minutes.
“We currently have a number of tests ongoing to mature the platform that we have, these include our wind tunnel tests, iron bird tests and engineering simulators. All of these allow us to understand the physical aspects of our aircraft design. But because we have, aside from the revolutionary electric propulsion, a conventional aircraft, the aerodynamics and so on are similar to other aircraft already in existence which makes life a bit easier. This is a big challenge for eVTOLs, to say the least,” explains Stein.
“I was hugely and positively impressed by all the great work that had been done before I got here. I came from a big OEM right? For such a small company to have the quality and robustness of internal process is really impressive. By this time next year we want to have matured the company in all aspects from design to partner relationships and everything in between.”
The Embraer veteran spent a quarter century with Brazil’s leading OEM. In his time there he lead the Embraer E2 product and market strategy through certification, and oversaw the listing of Eve on the New York Stock Exchange back in 2022. What made him decide to make the jump?
“Really, it is just a great opportunity, one of those once in a lifetime chances that you do not know will come again,” says Stein. “Being here with the right experience, at the right moment, you have such a unique opportunity. Eviation has flown to date what is the largest fully electric aircraft ever.
“It has never been about leaving the previous company, it has been about joining Eviation,” he concludes.