Technology 3 min read

World’s First Commercial Electric Plane Takes Off in Canada

Image courtesy of Harbour Seaplanes

Image courtesy of Harbour Seaplanes

The world’s first commercial electric plane took off on Tuesday from the Vancouver International Airport’s South Terminal.

The civil aviation has become one of the fastest-growing sources of carbon emissions.

At the moment, air travel accounts for about 2.5 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. While the number is still meager compared with passenger cars or power plants, a study suggests that carbon emissions from air travel are multiplying.

Eventually, aviation could take up 25 percent of the worlds’ carbon budget. As you may have guessed, these emissions contribute to global warming and climate change, which could unleash more severe effects such as sea-level rise, harsher drought, and superstorms.

So, it’s not surprising that the idea of an environmentally friendly flying is floating around.

Earlier in the year, a Norwegian company placed a large order for 60 electric planes to train the next generation of pilots. Similarly, Tesla‘s acquisition of Maxwell, a leading storage energy solution, is believed to be a step towards having emission-free planes.

Meanwhile, an all-electric, zero-emission, commercial aircraft took its first flight in Canada, marking the beginning of the electric aviation age.

Flying the World’s First Commercial Electric Plane

A Seattle-based engineering firm, MagniX designed an electric motor for a commercial plane. Working with a commercial airline company, Harbour Air, the engineers retrofitted their motor in a six-passenger DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver seaplane.

The founder and chief executive of Harbour Air, Greg McDougall, piloted the plane. He flew on a short loop along the Fraser River near Vancouver International Airport before roughly 100 onlookers.

According to the journalists on the scene, the flight lasted less than 15 minutes. And McDougall described the experience as flying a “Beaver on electric steroids.”

In a statement to the press, the chief executive said:

“Our goal is actually to electrify the entire fleet. There’s no reason not to.”

Since electric motors require less upkeep, It was a no-brainer. Along with its fuel efficiency, the company would save more money on maintenance costs.

Unfortunately, electrifying a fleet of over 40 seaplanes could take as much as two years.

Certified regulators must approve the motor. Also, the regulators must conduct more tests to confirm the safety and reliability of the plane.

Battery power is another challenge that the team must overcome. The current lithium power battery only supports about 100 miles.

While we’re waiting for batteries that can power longer flights, short-haul flights powered by electricity is a great place to start.

Read More: New Generator Prototype Converts Waste Heat Into Electricity

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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