In episode 199 of the Disruptors for Good podcast, I speak with Kevin Noertker, Co-founder and CEO of Ampaire, on his journey and the vision to decarbonize aviation.
He discusses the advancements in hybrid electric planes and the challenges of building a sustainable future for aviation.
Kevin was named one of the 50 Social Entrepreneurs to Watch for in 2024.
- The company is focused on building hybrid electric systems for airplanes, similar to how the Toyota Prius is a hybrid electric car.
- The company has the world’s largest fleet of hybrid electric planes and has flown over 25,000 miles in pilot projects with airlines.
- The next challenges for Ampaire include building a supply chain for aviation-specific batteries, motors, and inverters, as well as navigating the regulatory landscape.
- Kevin emphasizes the importance of finding meaningful, challenging, and visible work, practicing humility, and surrounding oneself with a team of talented individuals.
Kevin Noertker is Co-founder and CEO of Ampaire. Over the past eight years, Kevin and his team have pioneered practical, compelling electrified flight through the upgrade of existing aircraft types.
Prior to Ampaire, Kevin contributed engineering and program management expertise to advanced aircraft and satellite technology development programs at Northrop Grumman, and as a research fellow at Caltech and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
An entrepreneur at heart, Kevin is driven to apply the science and engineering disciplines of large aerospace organizations to pressing environmental problems here on Earth.
timing of chapters might be a bit off after editing.
00:00 Introduction and Background
01:06 Kevin’s Journey and Education
03:01 Inspiration and Vision for Ampaire
17:42 Explaining Amp Air to Everyday People
18:53 Advancements and Graduation of Ampaire’s Technology
24:46 Hurdles and Goals for Ampaire
32:53 Advice for Aspiring Founders
38:49 Goals and Successes for the Next 3-5 Years
With a focus on innovation and sustainability, Ampaire is dedicated to developing technology that will reduce aviation’s carbon footprint and make air travel more accessible to communities around the world.
The company has developed a platform of hybrid electric and electric propulsion technologies applicable across numerous aircraft types. Upgrading existing aircraft to hybrid electric power is Ampaire’s rapid, capital efficient approach to making commercial electric air travel a reality with available technology.
Ampaire has scored a series of industry firsts since the 2019 maiden flight of its Electric EEL technology testbed aircraft, including the longest flight for a hybrid electric aircraft–1,135 statute miles en route from Los Angeles to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and the maiden flight of its hybrid electric Eco Caravan aircraft in 2022, the world’s largest hybrid electric airplane.
Electric Propulsion: A Versatile Solution
The company’s electric propulsion technology is not confined to specific aircraft types; instead, it is designed to work across a myriad of planes, promising enhanced efficiency.
The implications of this technology are monumental, unlocking vast market opportunities within the global aviation industry.
As the world seeks cleaner and more sustainable alternatives, Ampaire positions itself at the forefront, offering a solution that transcends conventional boundaries.
The AmpDrive System: Transforming Aviation
Their AmpDrive system is a game-changer in the realm of hybrid-electric aircraft. With over 17,500 miles flown across its fleet and a flawless safety record, Ampaire stands as the leader in hybrid-electric aviation.
The commitment to developing and flying the AmpDrive system showcases the company’s dedication to reaching the mass market with this groundbreaking technology, leading the entire industry toward a sustainable and eco-friendly future.
Ampaire adopts a meticulous building-blocks approach to electrifying aviation. Each aircraft integrated with the AmpDrive technology builds upon the insights gained from its predecessors, ensuring a continuous enhancement of confidence and safety with every flight.
This methodical process positions Ampaire uniquely at the forefront of the industry, backed by collaborations with notable institutions and projects that push the boundaries of innovation.
Environmental and Economic Benefits
Electric aviation, championed by Ampaire, offers a multitude of benefits. Not only does it significantly reduce emissions and noise, but it also fosters better connectivity for currently underserved communities.
The technology boasts the potential to lower fuel consumption by 90%, maintenance costs by 50%, and noise by 60%.
This translates to more frequent, convenient, and affordable flights, transforming air travel into an environmentally friendly and economically viable option.
The Journey: Today, Tomorrow, and Beyond
Ampaire’s flight plan encompasses Today, Tomorrow, and Beyond, symbolizing its commitment to delivering electrified aircraft to airlines, manufacturers, and other customers in the near term.
This strategic approach allows the company to accumulate essential experience for the development of clean-sheet aircraft designs.
Ampaire leverages technological advances and charts the fastest, most reliable path to industry-wide adoption of electric aviation.
Ingenuity and Experimentation
Drawing parallels with the automotive industry, electric aviation is in its infancy, requiring ingenuity and experimentation to flourish.
Ampaire boldly took the first step by flying the hybrid-electric test platform, The Electric EEL, in 2019.
This early foray into electric flight has positioned Ampaire on the cutting edge of the industry, gaining knowledge and experience that propels the company forward in the pursuit of sustainable air travel.
Beyond the Horizon: Ampaire’s Vision
Ampaire’s vision extends beyond the horizon, fueled by insights gained from today and tomorrow’s work. The company envisions clean-sheet electric airplanes that are fully optimized for electric power.
These future aircraft will fly farther and longer, offering greater capability and efficiency for operators. Ampaire’s three-step flight plan promises a smooth certification process, paving the way for a future defined by compelling, revolutionary electric aircraft.
Grant is the founder of Causeartist, one of the most influential impact business platforms in the world. Since 2013, Causeartist has been read in over 150 countries. Grant has personally interviewed 800+ impact entrepreneurs from around the world, highlighting innovations in ethical fashion, climate change, ethical technology, impact investing, and sustainable travel.