Rex and Australian-headquartered Dovetail Electric Aviation (Dovetail) have announced the formation of a strategic partnership to pioneer the conversion of turbine-powered aircraft to electric, nil-emission propulsion.
The partnership, which will operate under the Dovetail brand, will develop and certify the retrofitting of electric engines onto legacy aircraft, initially for regional and general aviation aircraft.
Dovetail was formed in 2021 by Sydney Aviation Holdings, owners of Sydney Seaplanes and Dante Aeronautical, a start-up pioneering disruptive electric aviation concepts with a presence both in Spain and Australia.
John Sharp, Deputy Chairman of Rex Airlines, said: “Rex is both proud and excited to be at the forefront of developments in sustainable regional aviation and helping our national efforts in achieving the target of net-zero emissions by 2050.
“We are delighted to partner with Sydney Seaplanes and Dante Aeronautical in Dovetail Electric Aviation and to lend our aviation and engineering expertise to advance its progress, while also accelerating Rex’s journey to a zero-emissions future.
The conversion of turbine aircraft to electric propulsion promises to bring zero-emissions aviation into the mainstream much faster and more cost effectively than via newly commissioned electrical planes. Dovetail expects to achieve certification for converted aircraft within four years, compared with more than eight to ten years for clean sheet electric aircraft, and at a fraction of the certification costs.
Aircraft will be converted using MagniX engines for which Dovetail is the exclusive distributor in Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific and Mediterranean Europe. Converted aircraft will be 30-40% quieter than its donor planes and will enjoy reduced operating costs of around 40%.
Dovetail will certify the entire propulsion system of an aircraft by integrating the electric motor, battery packs and hydrogen fuel cells into one ‘drive-train’ on an existing airframe. In doing so, it will generate unique IP in conversion engineering, testing technology and power plant machine learning to optimise powerplant performance.