Surf Air Mobility has confirmed its order with Textron Aviation for up to 100 Cessna Grand Caravan EX aircraft, with options for 50 more. It has paid the deposit for the first 20 units and deliveries are expected to begin in the first half of 2024.
Surf Air will upgrade the aircraft with its proprietary electric or hybrid-electric powertrain technology, targeting FAA certification in 2026.
“Our relationship with Textron Aviation is paramount in our mission to revolutionise air travel,” says Surf Air co-founder Sudhin Shahani. “This initial fleet delivery solidifies our commitment to bringing advanced electric aircraft to market to reduce fuel emissions and the cost of air travel.”
Surf Air plans to make electrified aircraft broadly available to new and existing operators, and to bring the benefits of lower cost, lower emission air travel at scale to customers. It will also be the exclusive provider to Textron Aviation of certain battery electric and hybrid electric powertrain technology for the aircraft type.
“We know from our experience that people are looking for faster, affordable and cleaner regional travel, and we are building the ecosystem to accelerate the industry's adoption of electric flight," he continues. "We believe that significantly reducing the emissions from this category of aircraft will be the biggest step we can take toward de-carbonisation in this decade.”
Surf Air Mobility's vision is to utilise both an electric and hybrid-electric Cessna Grand Caravan across its network, connecting more airports with short haul direct service while also building a regional mass transport platform to sustainably connect communities across North America.
“We are excited to see Surf Air's progress in expanding its fleet with deliveries expected to begin early next year,” says Textron SVP global sales and flight operations Lannie O'Bannion. “The Cessna Caravan's adaptability for passenger and cargo operations makes it an ideal platform for hybrid electric and electric propulsion innovations. This exclusive relationship is a demonstration of Textron Aviation's commitment to the future of sustainable flight.”
“We are very proud of our relationship with Textron Aviation and excited to expand our growing network with this fleet order,” adds Jamie Strecker, head of business development for Surf Air. “This order brings us closer to our ultimate goal to electrify our entire fleet and bring the world a more sustainable way to fly.”
The electrified architecture should reduce direct operating costs by 25-50 per cent and direct carbon emissions by up to 50-100 per cent while providing similar performance as the current models. The aircraft should be immediately operable at more than 5,000 public use airports across the US, with no charging stations required for the hybrid-electric powertrain iterations. Reducing the environmental impact of flying paves the way for future generations of even more sustainable aircraft, and enhances the ability for a new point-to-point route network to make direct flights more affordable and more accessible for more people in more places. It also opens the ability for more Cessna Grand Caravan owners and operators to upgrade to the electric or hybrid powertrains.
The Cessna Grand Caravan EX is designed and manufactured by Textron Aviation.