DHL Express has announced an order for twelve fully electric Alice eCargo aircraft manufactured by Israeli-American start-up Eviation, due for delivery in 2024.

Contrary to most of the recently announced orders for electric aircraft, DHL did not include any caveats indicating the order to be conditional on future developments.

Eviation's Alice eCargo is scheduled to operate its first test flight by the end of 2021. The aircraft is designed to carry up to 1,200 kilogrammes of payload with a range of up to 815 kilometres. According to the manufacturer, it will be operated by a single pilot and will be rechargeable in around 30 minutes between flights. The logistics firm said it would deploy the aircraft on routes currently served by turboprop and piston aircraft. It did not disclose which AOC the aircraft would be placed on.

"Not all details are final yet, but DHL Express plans to build several zero-emission Alice feeder networks starting in the US. In general, these electric feeder networks could be established anywhere in the world. So we expect more countries to come," spokesman Tim Rohkopf told ch-aviation.

While DHL Express is the world's first customer for the freighter variant of the Alice electric aircraft, Cape Air (9K, Hyannis) recently said it was hoping to induct the passenger variant, seating up to nine passengers as early as 2023. The regional carrier signed a tentative agreement to add an undisclosed number of Eviation Alices in 2019 and plans to deploy them on regional routes connecting Boston, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, and Hyannis.

While Eviation originates in Israel and retains its research and development centre there, its manufacturing and testing facility is in Arlington, WA, in the vicinity of Seattle.