Harbour Air Seaplanes says the company is on track to test its first converted electric seaplane by the end of this year.
The seaplane company announced earlier this year that it would partner with MagniX, an electric aviation company based in Washington state, to become the first all-electric airline. The goal is to eventually convert the entire fleet.
The first aircraft being converted is a prototype and the company expects to begin testing in early December.
In a release on Friday, Harbour Air said the magniX motor had been installed, as had other components of the plane.. The maintenance team still has to receive final battery strings, receive and install a battery management unit, put power on and begin testing, and continue to develop and connect wiring.
“With the delivery and successful installation of the magniX motor, we are working hard to connect the internal systems in preparation for its first flight,” the company wrote.
“With incredible work being completed each day and a number of integral components being delivered over the next few weeks, we are in the midst of some of the most exciting and critical development work. Currently, we are on track for the first test flight to take place before the end of the year. By mid-November, we expect to have a concrete time-frame to test the first fully electric flight.”
MagniX CEO said earlier this year technology has not advanced enough to make electric planes a possibility for long-haul flights as the batteries required would be too heavy, so that’s what makes Harbour Air an appropriate partner.
The technology needs approval from Transport Canada and the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States, so the companies said their electric planes won’t take off until 2022 at the earliest.
Harbour Air operates 30,000 flights each year on 12 routes between Seattle, Vancouver, Victoria and other destinations in those areas.
Greg McDougall, founder and CEO of Harbour Air said adding the battery to the plane will reduce the capacity for passengers, but the company believes with battery innovation, costs will go down in the longer term.
“Electric motors are extremely reliable. They don’t have the same number of moving parts as a turbine or piston engine and they have much better durability,” he said in March.
With files from The Canadian Press