A six-seat floatplane, touted as the world's first commercial electric aircraft, made its first test flight Tuesday near Vancouver, western Canada, according to an AFP journalist on site.
The Canadian company Harbor Air, a 62-year-old de Havilland Beaver DHC-2 powered by an electric motor, flew a few minutes early in the morning, departing from the Vancouver airport, in front of a hundreds of curious and journalists.
"This is the beginning of the era of electric aviation," said Roei Ganzarski, president of the Seattle-based magni-X company, who designed the 750 horsepower electric motor for Harbor Air. , North America's largest seaplane company.
The yellow and blue aircraft was flown by Greg McDougall, founder and president of Harbor Air, which operates about 40 seaplanes and carries some 500,000 short-haul passengers annually along the Pacific coast of British Columbia. "Our goal is to electrify the entire fleet, there is no reason not to do it," he added.
McDougall says he will have to wait at least another two years before starting this electrification. He will first have to conduct further flight tests to test the reliability of the engine and obtain the necessary approvals for commercial operation, according to McDougall. him.
"For me it was like driving a normal Beaver, except that it was a Beaver on electric steroids," he commented after a flight along the Fraser River, which adjoins the airport. "In fact I even had to contain the power."
Due to the capabilities of its battery, the "e-Beaver" tested Tuesday has a limited range of about 160 km, which corresponds to the majority of flights operated by Harbor Air, explained its CEO.
Low-cost flying on electric planes could transform the way people travel, including getting to work, he says.
"If people are willing to drive for an hour to work, why not fly for 15 minutes," he asked.
Interviewed before the test flight, Canada's Transport Minister Marc Garneau said he was very interested in this experience "because it could point the way to a more environmentally friendly way of flying."
Aviation accounts for about 2% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, according to figures from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
Last October, at the last general meeting of the UN institution based in Montreal, the 193 member countries committed to work on a long-term goal (2050) to limit CO2 emissions from international flights. This goal will be discussed at the next Triennial Assembly in 2022.
© 2019 AFP