The world's first electric commercial airplane just completed a test flight
- Harbour Air's ePlane, the world's first all-electric commercial aircraft, completed a test flight over the Fraser River in British Columbia in Canada on December 10.
- Harbour Air's ePlane is a six-passenger Havilland Beaver aircraft that's been retrofitted with an electronic propulsion system.
- Harbour Air plans to build a full fleet of planes using the ePlane's design.
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A Vancouver-based airline is one step closer to launching the world's first all-electric commercial plane after a successful test flight on December 10. Harbour Air's ePlane completed a 10-minute trip across the Fraser River in Richmond, BC.
The ePlane is a six-passenger DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver, a Canadian-designed aircraft that has been in use since 1946. Harbour Air developed the ePlane alongside magniX, a company that's designed multiple electronic propulsion systems for planes. Harbour Air plans to build a full fleet of commercial seaplanes based on the ePlane's design.
Magnix shared a short video of the ePlane's test flight and Harbour Air CEO and founder Greg McDougall celebrated the test flight's success in a public statement.
"I am incredibly proud of Harbour Air's leadership role in re-defining safety and innovation in the aviation and seaplane industry," McDougall said. "Canada has long held an iconic role in the history of aviation, and to be part of this incredible world-first milestone is something we can all be really proud of."
With the test fight complete, Harbour Air and magniX will apply for certification and approval of the ePlane before retrofitting more Haviland Beavers with electric propulsion systems to fill the fleet. According to Fortune, Harbour Air expects the certification process to take about two years, with commercial flights starting in 2022.
MagniX CEO Roei Ganzarki told Fortune that charging electric planes is 60% to 80% cheaper than fueling an aircraft with fossil-fuels. The company is currently testing an all-electric Cessna Caravan that would cost between $6 and $12 (up to R180) to fuel for a 100-mile flight. The same flight would require more than $300 (R4,500) worth of fuel with a regular engine.
Ganzaki said magniX is in talks with other airlines to bring more fully electric planes into the commercial market.