Airlines around the world are working frantically to improve their own carbon footprint. However, it will not be possible to get by completely without climate emissions in one fell swoop. Instead, experts assume a gradual development. Smaller aircraft should therefore initially be deployed climate-neutrally at shorter distances. Finally, according to this theory, long-haul flights without emissions would be possible. In fact, Harbor Air, there is already an airline that is well on its way to flying exclusively with electric aircraft in the near future. However, it is also a rather unusual business. Because the Canadian airline only offers seaplane travel. Originally, the service was mainly used by the local timber industry. In the meantime, however, the flights are also used for tourist purposes or for exclusive private trips. In this way, Harbor Air manages about 300 scheduled take-offs and landings per day with 40 aircraft.
The first real flight route has been successfully completed
As early as 2019, the airline announced that it wanted to fly with an electric drive as soon as possible. However, such aircraft were not yet available at the time. Instead, the airline entered into a partnership with the specialist company magniX. Together, the eBeaver with an electric motor would be developed based on the previously used DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver aircraft. A first test flight could actually be successfully completed quite quickly. Nevertheless, a collaboration was then entered into with the battery specialist H55. The main hope was to reduce weight and thus increase range. Now the partners have announced another milestone. For the first time, a test flight has been successfully completed on a flight path that is actually usable in commercial operations. To be precise, the electric seaplane flew from the Fraser River to Pat Bay. The take-off and landing sites were each close to a classic airport, so that in theory a transit flight would have been possible.
The electric seaplane is in the approval process
The electric seaplane took 24 minutes to complete the approximately 72-kilometer route. Also important for the engineers involved: at the end of the flight, the batteries were still full of energy. Theoretically, a longer flight would have been possible. The successful test that has now been conducted is mainly intended to speed up the approval process with the US and Canadian authorities. As this is a completely new product, many complex tests are required to ensure long-term safety. As a result, it is currently not yet possible to make a reliable estimate when all the necessary permits will be obtained. At Harbor Air, however, the topic of air traffic electrification seems to be consistently promoted. If the approach proves successful and profitable, other smaller airlines could follow in the future.