Australian Airline Partners With Electric-Aircraft Conversion Startup

Beech King Air
Dovetail is targeting the conversion of King Airs such as those flown by Rex’s training subsidiary AAPA.
Credit: Australian Airline Pilot Academy

Australia’s Rex Airlines has partnered with startup Dovetail Electric Aviation to convert turbine-powered aircraft to electric propulsion, initially targeting regional and general aviation aircraft.

Dovetail was formed in 2021 by Sydney Aviation Holdings, owner of Australian tourist airline Sydney Seaplanes, and Spanish-Australia electric-aircraft startup Dante Aeronautical.

Dovetail plans to convert a Cessna Caravan to electric propulsion, targeting supplemental type certification in 2025. This is to be followed by the conversion of Caravans and Beechcraft King Airs to longer-range hydrogen-electric propulsion beginning in 2026.

Mascot, New South Wales-based Rex will provide an aircraft to Dovetail for use as a testbed. Rex also will supply engineering expertise and technical assistance as well as maintenance, repair and overhaul services.

Rex itself operates Boeing 737-800s and Saab 340s, which are not yet candidates for conversion to hydrogen propulsion, but its Pel-Air Aviation charter business operates King Airs and its Australian Airline Pilot Academy subsidiary flies King Airs and a range of light general-aviation aircraft.

“Australia, with its very high utilization of regional aviation and large number of aircraft capable of conversion, is a perfect incubator for the electric aircraft industry,” John Sharp, deputy chairman of Rex Airlines, says in a statement. “Significantly lower operating costs of electric aircraft will also help to stimulate regional aviation services between communities not currently served by scheduled flights.”

Graham Warwick

Graham leads Aviation Week's coverage of technology, focusing on engineering and technology across the aerospace industry, with a special focus on identifying technologies of strategic importance to aviation, aerospace and defense.