First E-commercial aircraft testedJanuary 10, 2020
Electromobility is not only aiming to conquer the road, it is also on its way to take to the skies. In addition to the car, air travel will also become electric in the future. The planned e-jets have so far been nothing but visions.
For the airline Harbour Air In Canada this vision became reality in December 2019! The world’s first fully electrically powered commercial aircraft has successfully passed its test flight.
The electric-powered seaplane took off from Vancouver Airport and did a lap over the Fraser River. It is the first E-Aircraft developed for commercial use.
The zero-emission commercial aircraft is based on a 62-year-old six-seater DHC-2 aircraft, which was previously powered by a piston engine. However, the US company MagniX from Seattle has converted the aircraft to electric propulsion.
The electric motor has an output of 761 hp and draws its power from a 200 kWh battery. However, the energy storage is currently only sufficient for a flight duration of about 30 minutes. The time to charge the battery is also 30 minutes.
Harbour Air transports around 500,000 passengers annually over short distances along the Canadian Pacific coast. The tested E-Flyer has a range of 160 kilometres. This is enough for most of the flights offered by Harbour Air.
Harbour Air’s goal is to convert the entire fleet of around 40 seaplanes. Apart from savings compared to aircraft fuel, the company could save millions in maintenance costs, as electric motors are “drastically” less maintenance-prone. Is this the beginning of the electric aviation age?
Environmentally friendly flying
However, before the drive can go into series production, further tests are necessary to prove its safety and reliability. The airline must first wait for certification by the Canadian and US aviation authorities. Such approvals usually take between two and three years. Harbour Air anticipates approval for 2021 and subsequent use of converted e-planes in scheduled operations.
The e-plane could set a trend towards environmentally friendly flying. So far, the aviation industry is by far the most climate-damaging transport industry, according to the EU environmental authority EEA, with 285 grams of CO2 per passenger and kilometre. It is responsible for two percent of global CO2 emissions.
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