Sustainability

Electricity is in the air as e-cargo planes take flight

What flies, runs on batteries, and could be delivering e-commerce orders soon? The “Alice” e-cargo plane from Eviation. The world’s first fully electric commuter plane is set to make aviation and air logistics a whole lot greener.

Electric aircraft will take our decarbonization journey to new heights

By 2024, 12 of the Alice aircraft will form an unparalleled electric network of cargo planes flying for DHL Express.

The concept of human flight was once an impossible dream, confined to the imaginations of inventors like the Wright brothers until their groundbreaking ideas literally took off. Over a century later, air travel and transport are essential to international trade and the global economy.

But aviation is also a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. A 2020 study by the consultancy company Roland Berger indicated that the aviation sector accounts for 3% of global carbon emissions. With demand for passenger and cargo flights on the rise, and as other industries reduce their carbon footprint, aviation could account for up to 24% of global emissions by 2050.

Some of the best and brightest minds in the aviation industry are working hard to reverse that trend but face a challenge that is unique to flying: the power requirements of flight are immense compared to other modes of transport. Simply put, replacing a diesel van with an electric vehicle is much easier than replacing an aircraft with an electric alternative.

Alice takes flight and makes history

That’s not stopping innovative technology leaders, including the experts at Eviation Aircraft. In September 2022, the company successfully completed the maiden flight of "Alice", the first-ever fully electric commuter plane designed to make aviation a sustainable, affordable, and quiet solution for regional travel and transport.

Watch the historic maiden flight


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The evolution of electric aircraft at Eviation

Located in the US state of Washington – home to Boeing, another aviation pioneer – Eviation is pushing the industry to reimagine regional travel. In addition to heralding a new era of transporting people, Alice could change how we transport goods regionally.

The key word here is ‘regional.’ Eviation is not trying to develop massive electric aircraft like the Boeing 777 or the Airbus A350. Big commercial jets – designed to fly lots of people and cargo long distances – are likely several decades away from becoming fully electric, if it’s even feasible at all. The problem is that outfitting an electric cargo plane of that size with enough batteries to replace the fuel needed to power the jets would make the aircraft weigh so much that it couldn’t even take off.

However, smaller planes – used for regional travel or cargo – can be built with electric propulsion and will soon be among the many aircraft crisscrossing the skies. By 2024, we hope 12 of these planes of the future will form an unparalleled network of e-cargo air freight aircraft flying for DHL Express. 

Meet Alice

The first-ever all-electric cargo aircraft, developed and made by Eviation Aircraft.

E-cargo makes middle miles greener

With sustainable solutions already in place for much of our last-mile delivery, our order of 12 Alice e-cargo represents an investment toward our overall goal of net-zero emissions logistics. Alice’s range and payload capacity will allow us to reduce our carbon emissions on feeder routes in environments currently serviced by piston and turbine aircraft. 

Alice eCargo planes

1

Single pilot

<30 min

Charge time per flight hour

815 km

Max range (440 NM)

1,250 kg

Max payload (2,500 lbs)

Alice e-cargo planes will require less investment in station infrastructure, and the quick charging times – less than 30 minutes per flight hour – mean we can charge them while loading and unloading shipments. That level of efficiency will help us maintain the quick turnaround times and tight schedules our DHL Express customers expect.

Our roadmap to sustainability focuses on meeting three key commitments: Clean operations for climate protection. Great company to work for all. Highly trusted company.

Sustainable roads, seas, and skies

We utilize all modes of transportation in our global logistics network. From bicycle couriers pedaling urban streets to electric delivery vans navigating neighborhoods and soon e-cargo plane pilots flying parcels between regional hubs, we’re committed to making every part of the logistics process as sustainable as possible. This means utilizing a blend of technologies and sustainable solutions that collectively contribute to our commitment to clean operations for climate protection.

In addition to adding Alice e-cargo planes to our sustainable logistics solutions, we’re also leveraging sustainable aviation fuels for long-haul flights and sustainable marine fuels for ocean cargo. We’re also increasingly electrifying our last-mile network, including using bikes for local delivery.

More than a century after the Wright brothers’ pioneering flight, people don’t give a second thought to boarding a plane and stepping off a few hours later in a different city or country. Luckily, it won’t take that long to make fully-sustainable logistics just as much of a no-brainer – especially with companies like Eviation powering breakthroughs in electric aircraft and changing how the next thing you order online arrives at your door.

DHL GoGreen Solutions

Decrease Emissions. Increase Efficiency. Emission friendly choices to meet all your transportation needs.


Updated: September 2022


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