Image: Harbour Air

British Columbia-based Harbour Air’s partnership with magniX means it could become the world’s first airline to offer all-electric flights across its fleet in 2022.

Harbour Air Seaplanes and magniX today announced a partnership to convert the airline’s seaplanes into an all-electric commercial fleet. The first aircraft to be converted will be a DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver and a test flight is expected to take place before the end of this year. Both companies are planning to receive certification by 2021 for the seaplanes – which will be powered by the magni500, a 750 horsepower all-electric motor – with a view to launching all-electric flights in 2022.

“We are once again pushing the boundaries of aviation by becoming the first aircraft to be powered by electric propulsion.” – Greg McDougall, Harbour Air Seaplanes

“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. “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. We are excited to bring commercial electric aviation to the Pacific Northwest, turning our seaplanes into ePlanes.”

The British Columbia-based airline currently operates 12 routes, including between Vancouver and Seattle, in addition to destinations on Canada’s Pacific coast. It flies more than 500,000 passengers on 30,000 commercial flights per year.

“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,” said Roei Ganzarski, CEO of magniX.

“Going from a traditional combustion to an electronic system, the operator will be saving between 70 to 80% of their operating costs per flight hour.” – Roei Ganzarski, magniX

“If you look at operating costs of electric propulsion system, or an electric aircraft, we found that going from a traditional combustion to an electronic system, the operator will be saving between 70 to 80% of their operating costs per flight hour,” Ganzarski told APEX Media. “So, every flight will be 70 to 80% cheaper. This is a significant reduction in operating costs and fuel, of course, is more than half the operating cost of a flight.”

Ganzarski thinks the economics and zero carbon emissions of magniX’s electric propulsion system could convince airlines to open new routes at much smaller airports. “Those aspects together and specifically the much lower operating costs, the attractiveness of flying in and out of regional airports becomes very practical,” he said.