Harbour Air announces plans to become world’s first all-electric commercial airline

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      North America’s largest seaplane company, Harbour Air, has partnered with an American engineering firm in a bid to become the world’s first all-electric commercial airline.

      In a news release, the B.C.-based company announced its partnership with Redmond, Washington’s magniX to begin converting its fleet to be powered by the magni500: a 750-horsepower all-electric motor.

      The first aircraft that will be converted is the DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver, a six-passenger plane that is used throughout Harbour Air’s network. The two companies expect to conduct the first test flights later this year.

      “Harbour Air first demonstrated its commitment to sustainability by becoming the first fully carbon-neutral airline in North America in 2007, through the purchase of carbon offsets,” said Greg McDougall, founder and CEO of Harbour Air Seaplanes, in a press statement.

      “Through our commitment to making a positive impact on people’s lives, the communities where we operate and the environment, we are once again pushing the boundaries of aviation by becoming the first aircraft to be powered by electric propulsion,” McDougall added. “We are excited to bring commercial electric aviation to the Pacific Northwest, turning our seaplanes into ePlanes.”

      Harbour Air flies to 12 destinations, and operates up to 300 daily flights.
      Tammy Kwan

      Harbour Air operates 12 routes between destinations such as Victoria and Vancouver, and Seattle and Vancouver. It carries more than 500,000 passengers on 30,000 commercial flights each year.

      If the local company’s conversion to an all-electric seaplane fleet is successful, it could pave the way for big changes in the aviation industry.  

      “In 2018, 75 percent of worldwide airline flights were 1,000 miles or less in range. With magniX’s new propulsion systems coupled with emerging battery capabilities, we see tremendous potential for electric aviation to transform this heavily trafficked ‘middle mile’ range,” said Roei Ganzarski, CEO of magniX, in a press statement.

      “We’re excited to partner with Harbour Air, a forward thinking, like-minded company that is dedicated to bringing environmentally conscious, cost effective air-transport solutions to the West Coast of North America. This partnership will set the standard for the future of commercial aviation operators,” Ganzarski added.

      A view of Vancouver on a Harbour Air scenic tour.