North American Seaplane operator Harbour Air and electric aviation company magniX have completed the first flight of an all-electric commercial aircraft. The successful flight of the ePlane, a six-passenger DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver magnified by a 750-horsepower (560 kW) magni500 propulsion system, took place on the Fraser River at Harbour Air Seaplanes terminal in Richmond (YVR South). The plane was piloted by Harbour Air CEO and founder Greg McDougall. This historic flight could signify the start of a ‘third era’ in aviation: the electric age.
“We have made history,” states McDougall. “I am incredibly proud of Harbour Air's leadership role in re-defining safety and innovation in the aviation and seaplane industry. 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.”
Earlier this year, Harbour Air announced its partnership with magniX and the company's intention to build the world's first completely electric commercial seaplane fleet. The magni500, which was unveiled at the Paris Air Show in June, 2019, is a high-power-density electric propulsion system that provides a clean and efficient way to power airplanes. Today that plan took flight and became a reality.
“In December 1903, the Wright Brothers launched a new era of transportation, the aviation age, with the first flight of a powered aircraft. Today, 116 years later, with the first flight of an all-electric powered commercial aircraft, we launched the electric era of aviation,” says Roei Ganzarski, CEO of magniX. “The transportation industry and specifically the aviation segment that has been, for the most part, stagnant since the late 1930s, is ripe for a massive disruption. Now we are proving that low-cost, environmentally friendly, commercial electric air travel can be a reality in the very near future.”
magniX and Harbour Air will now begin the certification and approval process for the propulsion system and the retrofitting of aircraft. Once the certification is complete, the rest of the fleet can be magnified with magniX's all-electric propulsion technology.