Green Flying: First Commercial E-Plane Makes History
Electric propulsion has long been a goal of aviation manufacturers to lessen the carbon footprint of air travel. On December 11, Vancouver, Canada-based Harbour Air launched the first successful test flight of an all-electric aircraft. Founder and CEO Greg McDougall piloted a 1956 de Havilland Beaver seaplane, rechristened the ePlane. Retrofitted with a 750-horsepower magni500 motor by MagniX, it took off from a dock on the Fraser River in Richmond, British Columbia, and flew for four minutes. The certification process will take one to two years. After that, the retrofits of the company’s existing fleet of small planes can begin. The challenge for airlines seeking to go green with large aircraft is that current technology leaves electric engines relatively weak for their weight and they have a short battery life, but these factors do not deter Harbour Air, which went carbon-neutral in 2007 and flies mostly short hops in the Northwest.