Elon Musk has been publicly discussing electric aircraft, since 2010 – remember Iron Man 2, but he’s never made moves on the technology. Now, however, one Pacific Northwest airline is converting their entire fleet to pure-electric power.
- Harbour Air is converting its full fleet of seaplanes to pure-electric power, making it the first airline to go all-electric.
- It was the first to go carbon neutral, through buying offsets, in 2007.
- It’s installing 750-horsepower electric motors from Redmond, Washington-based magniX.
- Test flights of the all-electric six-seater seaplanes begin later this year.
Harbour Air, based in Vancouver, B.C., is North America’s largest seaplane airline. It went completely carbon neutral in 2007. And, soon, it will be the first to go all-electric airline, when it converts its entire seaplane fleet over to pure-electric powertrains.
To achieve its emissions-free aims, Harbour Air has partnered with Redmond, Washington-based magniX, which builds electric motors for the aerospace industry. Together, the brands have identified the 750-horsepower magni500 electric motor as the ideal powertrain for Harbour’s fleet of DHC-2 de Hallivand Beaver six-seater seaplanes.
According to Harbour Air, 12% of all U.S. carbon emissions — and 4.9% globally — come from the aviation industry.
Although Harbour Air flies internationally, servicing 12 routes out of hubs that include Seattle and Vancouver, its flights are short enough to make it an ideal candidate for an electric conversion. Certainly, its electric conversion will have a relatively small impact on the aviation industry’s carbon emissions. Still, it’s an admirable first step. And, hopefully, it’ll set the example for other airlines to follow suit.
“Through our commitment to making a positive impact on people’s lives, the communities where we operate and the environment, we are once again pushing the boundaries of aviation by becoming the first commercial aircraft to be powered by electric propulsion,” Greg McDougall, founder and CEO of Harbour Air Seaplanes said in a prepared statement. “We are excited to bring commercial electric aviation to the Pacific Northwest, turning our seaplanes into ePlanes.”
Harbour Air and magniX will begin their initial pure-electric seaplane test flights in late 2019.