Azul Conecta (2F, Jundiaí) has signed a letter of intent for up to six Eco Caravan conversions from electric powertrain developer Ampaire, the companies announced in a joint statement.

The regional subsidiary of Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras (AD, São Paulo Viracopos) - Brazil's biggest airline by passenger volume, departures, and cities served - will also work with Ampaire to develop charging infrastructure across its bases and at other airports, and will also provide services to other Eco Caravan operators throughout South America.

The airline serves 84 destinations within Brazil with a fleet of twenty-seven Cessna (single turboprop) 208B Caravans, which will be refitted with AMP-H570 hybrid-electric powertrain and battery packs. This is expected to reduce its operating costs by 25% while advancing its sustainability goals, and seamlessly integrating the conversions into its current operations.

The order follows the first flight of the Eco Caravan in November 2022 and the announcement days later of a USD9 million award from the US Department of Energy to help Ampaire advance systems so that they are ready for US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification and series production.

According to Ampaire, the AMP-H570 integrates a combustion engine with an electric drivetrain. The Eco Caravan reduces fuel consumption and emissions by up to 70%. Emissions are near zero when using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

The hybrid-electric aircraft preserves the range/payload capability of the Cessna Grand Caravan, carrying upwards of nine passengers or more than 1.25 tons of cargo. Maximum range is more than 1,770 kilometres exceeding that of the Grand Caravan.

The Eco Caravan’s propulsion technology is scalable to larger regional aircraft and ultimately to single-aisle airliners. "Ampaire plans to rapidly roll out more powerful propulsion systems for larger aircraft. The Eco Caravan is the first step to larger hybrid-electric propulsion systems and ultimately zero-emission systems as energy storage technology advances,” said Ampaire Chief Executive Officer Kevin Noertker.

He said Ampaire was working with the FAA to certify the Eco Caravan in 2024 under a supplemental type certificate (STC).