Harbour Air’s commercial electric airplane takes flight from the seas

The world's first electric commercial aircraft owned and operated by Harbour Air is seen landing following its maiden flight in Richmond, British Columbia, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019. Harbour Air announced in March that it had partnered with engineering firm MagniX in Washington state with the goal of becoming the world's first all-electric airline. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP)

In what’s being hailed as the potential start of the third era in the aviation age, Vancouver-based firm Harbour Air in collaboration with Magnix has successfully launched its own commercial electric plane – called the eBeaver – on a ten-minute flight across the Fraser River.

The eBeaver, itself a modified version of de Havilland’s legendary DCH-2 Beaver, is equipped with a 750 horsepower electric motor and is intended to be the first model in a fleet of commercial aircraft that could transport passengers for a fraction of the cost traditional airlines take on when using fossil fuels.

Traditionally, DCH-2 Beaver aircraft burn around $300 USD of jet A fuel per hour when equipped with Pratt & Whitney PT-6A turbine engines. In contrast, the eBeaver is capable of flying around 100 miles on between $10 and $20 USD worth of electricity.

While the eBeaver may be limited – 100 miles is no major feat by aeronautical standards – the aircraft would be capable of transporting passengers across short distances and could feasibly work as an airborne ferry of sorts.

The eBeaver would also offer other interesting benefits, such as reduced maintenance costs and operating expenses, and wouldn’t need refuelling infrastructure beyond charging ports that would need to be installed at each of its stops.

We are proving that low-cost, environmentally friendly, commercial electric air travel can be a reality in the very near future,” said Magnix CEO Roei Ganzarski in a statement to the media.

The news joins the emergence of several other electric avenues this year – Tesla recently unveiled its dystopian electric Cybertruck, while German automotive marque Porsche joined the performance space with the all-electric Taycan.

What are your thoughts? Would you be willing to fly an electric aircraft despite its limited range? Could you see such a development working as an airborne ferry service? Let us know your perspective in the comments below.