UK’s Aerovolt looks to supercharge electric aviation

Electric aviation startup Aerovolt has officially launched its charging network to the public, giving pilots access to charging infrastructure at several airfields across southern England.

Andrew Wade

At a press event at Dunkeswell Aerodrome in Devon, the Aerovolt team showed off one of their latest installations, an airside charger capable of delivering 22kW to an electric aircraft. For the two-seater electric Pipistrel plane on display at the event, this is enough power to fully charge it in about an hour, resulting in a flight time close to 60 minutes and a range of around 75 nautical miles.

Due to the electricity supply at Dunkeswell being limited to single phase, the Eaton charger is paired with a 320kWh battery storage system comprised of four repurposed Tesla batteries. Provided by Allye, the battery system charges off single phase, while outputting 22kw three phase power to an aircraft and up to four EVs. According to the Aerovolt team, the Allye system was essential for the viability of the Dunkeswell installation, as obtaining three phase power to the site was prohibitively expensive.

The Allye system can charge an electric plane and up to four EVs simultaneously - Andrew Wade

Alongside Dunkeswell, the company has already installed six other chargers at airfields and regional airports along England’s south coast, including Lydd in Kent, Shoreham (Brighton City Airport), and Bournemouth Airport. More than 10 more locations have already signed up to join the network, with Aerovolt in talks with dozens of others. According to chief commercial officer Guy Haydon, the company plans to have its chargers operating in around 70 locations within the next 18 months, including sites in Wales, Scotland and potentially France.

Charging sessions are booked via Aerovolt’s ‘Squadron’ app, a subscription to which costs £36 per month. Squadron Members receive an ID card that can be used to activate the chargers, with updates provided via text while charging is underway. Once the charge is complete, AeroVolt produces an invoice which can be paid later on the company’s website, enabling pilots to charge an aircraft even at remote airfields when poor internet connectivity prohibits on-the-spot payment. The company has also just partnered with Octopus to integrate Squadron with the energy supplier’s Electoverse charging network.

In November 2023, Aerovolt performed the first test of the smart charging system with a flight from Sandown Isle of Wight to Brighton City Airport. In January, the company announced it is in talks with eVTOL company Skyfly to demonstrate the first ever eVTOL flight between two different airfields later in 2024.