Mokulele Airlines (MHO, Kona) will test hybrid electric aircraft by the end of 2019 in a partnership with Los Angeles-based manufacturer Ampaire, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser has reported.

Initial test flights will be between Kahului and Hana and are expected to happen in September or October 2019. Mokulele Airlines currently operates the inter-island route on Maui using Cessna (single turboprop) 208B Grand Caravans.

Ampaire said it had contacted other airlines in Europe and the Caribbean but Hawaii was the ideal testing ground for the new aircraft.

"With a short flight, it shows off the technology and its benefits. Hawaii’s focus on sustainability also makes it more aligned with our own vision," product manager Brice Nzeukou said.

The proposed hybrid electric aircraft will seat up to nine passengers, the same number as a Cessna 208B, and will have enough range to operate Mokulele Airlines' intra-Hawaii routes. Nzeukou said that even the airline's longest sector from Kahului to Honolulu will be well within the type's range.

In March, Canada's Harbour Air Seaplanes (YB, Vancouver Coal Harbour) said it will convert all of its seaplanes to electric propulsion, becoming the first carrier globally to do so.