Plugging Into Electric Airplanes
Plugging Into Electric Airplanes
Clay Lacy Aviation will break ground this summer on a new terminal and hangar facility at Orange County’s John Wayne Airport with an eye toward an electrified future.
The state-of-art facility will be the first in the world to be certified to the ISI Envision Gold Standard for sustainable infrastructure. It will include all the traditional needs for the fixed-base operator to provide maintenance, fueling, charters, flight training, hangar space and tie-downs for private aircraft.
But the company is also moving forward with plans to meet the future mobility needs of its customers. The facility will include infrastructure for 48 electric vehicles and the next generation of aviation — electric aircraft.
This isn’t just a wild idea out of “The Jetsons.” Electric aircraft have been in development and testing for some time. The industry is expecting the first electric passenger aircraft to start being certified to fly as soon as next year.
To prepare, Clay Lacy’s plans include infrastructure, providing six charging stations for electric aircraft. It already has a partnership to provide charging to Washington-based Eviation's nine-passenger Alice electric plane when the aircraft gets certified for flight.
As the industry grows, Clay Lacy hopes to make John Wayne Airport a hub for electric aircraft service.
“When the planes are certified, we want them to be able to come to Orange County,” said Scott Cutshall, Clay Lacy’s senior vice president of development and sustainability.
While electric aircraft may be a thing of the future, electric vehicles are part of the here and now as California moves toward its 2035 goal of requiring all new cars and light trucks to be electric.
Clay Lacy is taking advantage of Southern California Edison's Charge Ready Program to help build the EV charging stations at its new facility.
Charge Ready is one of a variety of programs SCE supports as part of the utility’s Pathway 2045 blueprint to advance electrification to meet the state’s goals for carbon neutrality.
Under the Charge Ready Program, SCE covers the basic infrastructure for the EV charging stations — installation of transformers and the lines that power chargers. Clay Lacy will be responsible for putting in the actual chargers, but that equipment may qualify for a separate SCE rebate.
“Charge Ready is one of our best programs for businesses because we provide the backbone,” said Steven Tilk, an SCE senior advisor who works with governments and institutions. “We are seeing great adoption of Charge Ready.”
Once operational, Clay Lacy can also take advantage of SCE’s special EV rates for charging stations.
While SCE programs for EVs are currently available, charging electric aircraft is still too new. Like the early days of EVs, the industry has yet to standardize the plug-ins for electric planes.
But as it turns out, a stationary charging stations for aircraft may only be one charging method. There are already discussions of a mobile solution that would allow electric trucks to drive to an aircraft to charge it on the tarmac. The truck also would have the advantage of providing emergency backup power to facilities.
“That’s my dream,” Cutshall said.
To learn more about SCE's clean energy initiatives, visit edison.com/clean-energy.