An aviation company at the cutting edge of electrified air travel has taken a significant step forward, completing a first-of-a-kind test flight using a retrofitted seaplane. Harbour Air’s De Havilland Beaver completed a short hop from the Canadian mainland to Vancouver Island using its all-electric drivetrain, demonstrating the viability of its cleaner approach to short-haul flights.
Harbour Air is the largest seaplane airline in North America and claims to transport around half a million passengers across 30,000 commercial flights each year. In 2019, it pledged to become the world’s first all-electric airline, a bold vision that involves retrofitting its fleet of existing six-seater seaplanes with electric propulsion systems.
These systems come via a partnership with electric motor company MagniX, which is making important advances with its high-power electric motors and has partnered with other ambitious companies in the aviation space.
In December of 2019, the modified De Havilland Beaver took off to complete the first successful flight of an all-electric commercial aircraft, a brief jaunt above the Fraser River at Harbour Air’s terminal in Richmond, British Columbia. The company has since continued this testing program with an eye to certifying and approving the aircraft with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Transport Canada.
Last week, on August 17, the company’s electric aircraft completed its first point-to-point test flight, in what might resemble a future commercial service. The plane took off at 8:12 am from its Fraser River Terminal and landed at Patricia Bay on Vancouver Island 24 minutes later, completing a 45-mile (72-km) journey purely on electricity, with ample power reportedly leftover.
“I am excited to report that this historic flight on the ePlane went exactly as planned” said Kory Paul, Harbour Air’s Vice President of Flight Operations and one of the company’s test Pilots. “Our team as well as the team at magniX and Transport Canada are always closely monitoring the aircraft’s performance and today’s flight further proved the safety and reliability of what we have built.”
Source: Harbour Air