Aircraft

North America's largest seaplane airline plans to go all-electric

The electric conversion of the entire fleet should commence within a couple of years
The electric conversion of the entire fleet should commence within a couple of years
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The first planes to get the electric motors will be the airline's 10 six-passenger de Havilland Beavers
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The first planes to get the electric motors will be the airline's 10 six-passenger de Havilland Beavers
The electric conversion of the entire fleet should commence within a couple of years
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The electric conversion of the entire fleet should commence within a couple of years

Although we just heard about a planned hybrid airliner, that's not the only "green" airplane news to come our way today. Harbour Air, North America's largest seaplane airline, has now announced that its entire 34-aircraft fleet will be going electric.

Based out of Vancouver, British Columbia, Harbour Air focuses its service on short flights within the Pacific Northwest – it reportedly carries over 500,000 passengers on 30,000 commercial flights annually.

In an effort to lower both operating costs and environmental impact, the new plan calls for all the seaplanes' internal combustion engines to be replaced with 560-kW/750-hp magni500 motors, made by Washington State-based company magniX. The first planes to get the motors will be the airline's 10 six-passenger de Havilland Beavers (one of which is pictured below).

The first planes to get the electric motors will be the airline's 10 six-passenger de Havilland Beavers
The first planes to get the electric motors will be the airline's 10 six-passenger de Havilland Beavers

Test flights should begin in late 2019. The conversion of the rest of the fleet ought to follow within one to two years.

"In 2018, 75 percent of worldwide airline flights were 1,000 miles [1,609 km] or less in range," says magniX CEO Roei Ganzarski. "With magniX's new propulsion systems coupled with emerging battery capabilities, we see tremendous potential for electric aviation to transform this heavily trafficked 'middle mile' range."

Source: Harbour Air via Globe and Mail

13 comments
guzmanchinky
How interesting! I love watching these planes take off and land in Vancouver Harbor. But is the plane big enough to carry that battery pack AND people and bags? When I see those planes they are usually pretty packed already. Another question is emergency range, if the destination is under severe IFR can they make it back or fly long enough to find somewhere else safe to land? And what about charging? When you watch these guys fly it's a very short turnaround time. I'll be there this summer so maybe I'll see one!
Fairly Reasoner
Is it April 1st in Canada?
Howe
That's awesome, the flight would also be much more enjoyable, much quieter. But Mr. Chinky has good points. Charging and range will continue to be EV's thorn in the side for several years to come.
Babaghan
The residents of Coal Harbour will be happy once this comes to pass - those engines are very noisy on takeoff.
ChristopherBoffoli
@guzmanchinky: "somewhere safe to land" is any available bit of open water, of which we have lots in the Pacific Northwest.
Username
Charging time will not be a concern if they use swappable battery packs
paul314
What's the turnover point where air is massively more convenient than other modes of transport in the back PNW? Competitors in a lot of areas are boat and ATV and horse rather than train or car on highway. 50 miles? less?
DavidIngram
Nooooooo! A thousand times no. If they want to do this, use some pretty current production airframe. Leave those Beavers alone. I also never want HAL flying my plane.
guzmanchinky
Christopher: Not necessarily. The current planes have enough fuel to get where they are going, loiter for 30 minutes, and fly all the way back if needed. If there is heavy fog down to the ground then you might need to fly a long way to get to a safe landing area.
Towerman
Excellent ! The electric revolution starts Here !