It’s always great hearing stories such as a new one from seaplane operator Harbour Air, which is based in Vancouver, Canada, and is switching its entire fleet to electricity!
When the world’s largest floatplane-only airline, Harbour Air, says it is switching to become an electrically powered airline, you know something is going on with the state of aviation battery technology. It starts to make sense to some, at least enough to look into it. And when aviation makes financial sense of electric mobility, it also means the tipping point is near or already reached.
Harbour Air will be the first seafaring airline to convert its complete fleet of de Havilland Beaver, Otter, Twin Otter aircraft and lone Cessna Caravan to electricity. These 41 vintage aircraft will be converted to reach a longer lifecycle with highly improved efficiency and lowered maintenance costs, a win-win for all.
Currently, the airline flies 500,000 passengers annually, with daily scheduled service flights between Seattle, Vancouver, and various other cities on the coast of British Columbia, as well as Vancouver Island.
According to the Vancouver Sun, founder and CEO Greg McDougall said: “If you think about it, it’s the evolution of transportation toward electric propulsion. The internal combustion engine is all but obsolete, really, for future development. It’s all about electric.”
In order to do that, Harbour Air will have to work closely with magniX, the company that developed the 750 hp electric motor and battery pack that will give the aircraft enough electricity and power for about an hour of flight.
All of Harbour Air’s flights are 30 minutes or less, making electric air mobility ideal. By retrofitting new technology to an older existing platform, the airline continues to expand its product lifecycle. In terms of economy, the cost is the same as upgrading to a turbine engine. The benefit is that electric motors don’t need to be rebuilt every 2,500 to 3,000 hours. Maintenance is much lower.
In the end, we can always tell when a switch is in the air, and no matter how much kickback, once a company makes financial sense of electric mobility, there is no turning back. Harbour Air is certainly a bookcase scenario showing that the electric aviation business case has been reached.