Harbour Air: A Fully Electric Airline

Updated: Dec 20, 2019

Harbour Air, a canadian floatplane service, tour and charter airline has made a clear step towards making history after successfully concluding with “eBeaver's” first fully electric flight.

eBeaver pictured operating its first flight. Photo by Kaden Chang.

Last March, Harbour Air announced a partnership with magniX – an electric motor manufacturer in Redmond, Washington – in an effort to electrify the airline's entire fleet over the course of a few years (we interviewed magniX CEO, Roei Ganzarski earlier this year, see more here).

The “eBeaver” is a modified version of the successful hydroplane, the DCH-2 Beaver developed by Havilland (1946) and which is no doubt the first of its kind to use an electric motor and a full pack of batteries. According to individuals in charge of the flight, this was short but quite successful in terms of what the actual requirements of the airline are – commercial flights on routes of under 30 minutes.

The airplane took off from Fraser River located in Richmond, British Columbia with Greg McDougall as the pilot in command who is in fact Harbour Air's founder and CEO. The flight lasted no more than 10 minutes, those of which were more than enough to test the full functionality of the plane. This airplane is equipped with a magni500 propulsive system of 750CV (560kW) and with a battery pack that lasts for around 161km of autonomy.

The first clear advantage of this electric plane relies under operation costs, this given the fact that 161km are transformed into 20 dollars an hour.

Photo by Kaden Chang.

Moreover, this type of aircraft needs less maintenance and infrastructure for battery charging which is way cheaper than a fuel one. All of these without leaving out noise reduction and lowering CO2 emissions. According to aeronautic engineers, the main issue that needs to be solved is the fact that the batteries' capabilities limit range, reason for which the airline is planning to reduce the amount of passengers per flight.

Harbour Air has started the process to certify the modifications made to the airplane under civil aviation authorities and once such is approved, the next step would be to fully modernize the entire fleet. The company is now estimating to end the process of certification for 2020 so that during the course of the year and probably 2021 all the tests necessary are completed and from 2022 onwards the airline can start flying fully electric.

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