VoltAero tested Safran’s new ENGINeUS smart electric motors on its Cassio airframe. The VoltAero electric and hybrid nine-seater is the brainchild of Jean Botti, ex-Airbus E-Fan director, and test-pilot Didier Esteyne, who handled the test flight. Both pack serious electric aviation credentials, having spearheaded Airbus’ now-defunct e-Fan aviation project. It has since been replaced by the e-Fan X project.
With McDougall in the pilot’s seat, the Vancouver-based airline became the first to commercially fly an electric-powered aircraft – in this case, a 63-year-old De Vavilland Beaver seaplane.
“I was an early adopter of the Tesla car and so impressed by their innovation,” McDougall said. “When I got the car five years ago, I wondered if we could transfer similar electric engine technology to our planes. Someone was going to do it someday, so it may as well be us.”
The initial flight of the Harbour Air electric plane drew crowds of onlookers lining the waterfront. For now, the aircraft is in certification stage, a process that will take between two to three years, according to the New York Times.
If and when regulators give it a go, the aircraft will be able to handle a 30-minute flight – with a requisite 30-minute reserve – while being able to recharge in about an hour.
Journeys taking up to 1.5 hours – which includes all domestic Norwegian routes and those to neighbouring Scandinavian capitals – should be entirely electric, said Norwegian airport operator Avinor’s chief executive, Dag Falk-Petersen.
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