While cars are already shifting from fossil fuels to electric powertrains, airplanes have been largely limited to jet fuel for ages. Several electric airplanes have been built, tested, and even sold, but none of them were commercially viable.
The good news is, things are about to change soon as the world’s first fully-electric commercial aircraft has completed a short but successful test flight.
The Canadian seaplane airline company, Harbour Air, successfully tested the 1946 Havilland DHC-2 Beaver fitted with an electric motor that was supplied by the American firm magniX. The aircraft is now dubbed the “e-Beaver” after the successful flight.
Here’s the plane in action:
Harbour Air had announced its partnership with magniX earlier this year in an effort to produce a fleet of commercial electric airplanes. Roei Ganzarski, CEO at magniX, commented that this signifies the start of the electric aviation era.
Comparing the costs, this type of airplane powered by jet fuel burns about $300 worth of kerosene on a 1-hour flight, whereas the E-Beaver will cost no more than $10-$20 for a 160km journey. Unfortunately, E-planes will be limited to short journeys only since the energy density of lithium-ion batteries is minuscule compared to jet fuel.
Harbour Air believes that e-planes will go into full commercial service in 2022.