By Blake Atwell
Aviation industry professionals and enthusiasts gathered at the Santa Monica Museum of Flying last Friday, July 12 for a reception launching Eco-Aviation Foundation International. The Santa Monica-based 501 c3 non-profit organization, founded four months ago, aims to promote awareness and early-adoption of zero-emission electric aircraft technologies.
The foundation’s president, Scott Burgess, chose to locate in Santa Monica because of the city’s ecology focus.
“Everything’s about sustainability to the extreme,” Burgess said. “Electric cars, electric cycling, no straws. If we’re going to help aviation go eco, sooner rather than later, why not start in Santa Monica.”
The foundation receives heavy support from the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce. Chamber President and CEO Laurel Rosen describes her association as a “green chamber” that prides itself on maintaining Santa Monica’s reputation as a city on the cutting edge of sustainable technology.
“We have to look at the way that we’re doing transportation and how we’re communicating,” Rosen said. “This is one important step, it’s a big piece of that.”
Burgess describes the foundation’s mission as spreading the word of electric and hybrid aircraft. “All kinds of ways of going eco, including airports going eco with solar panels, microgrids, all that,” he said.
Airports have been trying to “go eco” for decades, a large push most recently made nearly 10 years ago. Over the past year, enabling technologies have evolved to the point where “going eco” is a real possibility in the short term.
The launch reception included two keynote speakers from electric aircraft industry leaders. Bye Aerospace CEO and Founder George Bye and Ampaire CEO and Co-Founder Kevin Noertker spoke about the benefits of bringing eco-aviation to life.
“Part of what comes with electric aviation as a possibility is the environmental benefits with the lack or removal of the process of producing [carbon dioxide],” Bye said. “We take out of the equation the conversion of aviation gasoline and oxygen into the [carbon dioxide] byproduct.”
Bye Aerospace is on pace to have the first certified all-electric airplane in Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) history.
Ampaire is in the midst of a full commercial certification process for a hybrid-electric aircraft.
“A lot of people are making promises and projections about where electric aviation might be someday,” Noertker said. “They project images of beautiful planes or ideas of your vertical takeoff and landing on demand aircraft. We love those ideas because they inspire people, but we know that in order to achieve a fully electric future we need to start with pragmatic, step-by-step realistic plans that bring planes to market much, much sooner.”
Noertker expects Ampaire’s Cessna 337 aircraft, retrofitted with an electric power-train, to be certified by 2021.