Washington Democratic U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell is touting electric air travel. 

Cantwell chairs an Aviation Safety committee, where she highlighted the need to invest in electric aircraft and alternative fuel sources on Wednesday. 

She mentioned the first ever test flight for an all-electric commuter airplane from Moses Lake this week. 

“Yesterday’s historic test flight and today’s hearing demonstrate it’s possible electric aircraft can become the new standard for regional travel, opening new opportunities for sustainability and connectivity,” Sen. Cantwell said. 

Washington state aerospace company Eviation launched the flight of “Alice” this week, which is a nine-seater all-electric commuter airplane prototype. 

Cantwell said electric airplanes like Alice seem “like a game changer” for the future of air travel in Washington state. 

“Particularly with the airlines, and even with the expansion of (Everett’s) Paine Field … The notion that Walla Walla that's constantly short changed -- you know, very big and growing wine region of our country. But one flight a day or two flights a day, you can change that. And you could have people going five or six flights a day. Now, it's all economical. So you're changing the dynamics of a rural economy,” Sen. Cantwell said. 

The Senator also emphasized how expanding electric air travel could transform communities with small airports that only shorter commuter flights.  

Half of all flights in the U.S. are less than 500 miles, she pointed out. 

Cantwell chairs the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Aviation Safety, Operations and Innovation.  

She introduced a bill last year to spur development of electric, hybrid, and alternatively powered planes through a new federal tax incentive. 

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