The world’s first fully-electric commercial aircraft took off at Vancouver International Airport, Canada, and successfully completed its first test flight. Magix, the company that provides electric motors for the aircraft, said, “This marks the third era of aviation-the era of electric.”
According to The Verge, the yellow-black six-seater DHC-2 beaver aircraft tested this time, equipped with a 750-horsepower Magni500 propulsion system, was modified from a 62-year-old seaplane, so the appearance is not only futuristic, but also a bit The sense of time, but this is the world’s first all-electric aircraft to take off.
The aircraft belongs to Harbour Air, the company ’s CEO and founder Greg McDougall personally made the first flight, even though the aircraft only flew over the Fraser River near the airport for 5 minutes, But McDougall believes they “make history” because no aircraft consumed one drop of fuel during this flight.
McDougall said that in addition to not needing to consume fuel, this electric aircraft can reduce maintenance costs by millions of dollars each year because of the greatly reduced maintenance costs of electric motors.
Although MagniX CEO Roei Ganzarski believes that the test flight has proved the feasibility of an all-electric commercial route, Harbour Air will not immediately launch this electric aircraft on the market as more testing is needed to ensure its reliability and safety, it will take at least two years to electrify its more than 40 aircraft.
In fact, before Harbour Aviation, in October, China ’s first independently developed four-seater electric aircraft RX4E made its first flight at Shenyang Caihu Airport in Liaoning, but this aircraft uses a hydrogen fuel cell + lithium battery hybrid, which is not considered fully electric. aircraft.
The RX4E is a small aircraft like the DHC-2 Beaver aircraft. It uses a double-row, four-seat, three-door design with a maximum power of 140 kW and a cruising speed of 200 km / h. It is equipped with a system power battery with a total capacity of nearly 70 kWh. The battery life is 1.5 hours and a range of 300 kilometers.
It can be seen that the electric aircraft that have successfully taken off at present are all small aircraft, and the aircraft has a short-range. This is mainly due to the energy density of the battery. At present, the fuel provides 43 times the energy of a battery of the same weight, which means that the battery takes up more space on the aircraft. For large aircraft such as the Boeing 737, the battery weight required is even Heavier than the airframe, this obviously cannot be commercialized.
Although many airlines are developing electric aircraft, the prospects for all-electric aircraft are not optimistic. In addition to the limitation of battery energy density, Netease Aviation also pointed out in an article that safety issues will also limit the possibility of commercial use of electric aircraft.
When similar problems occur on the ground, people can jump out of the car. But in the air, once a battery unit fires, it will spread quickly. Eventually, the blazing fire will turn the entire aircraft into a fireball that crashes to the ground, and passengers have no chance to escape.
The reason why airlines need to develop electric aircraft is to hope to get rid of fuel dependence, reduce operating and maintenance costs, and reduce carbon emissions. However, at this stage, the cost of fully electric aircraft may be higher than traditional aircraft. The company also plans to use a hybrid compromise.
Compared to all-electric aircraft, the commercialization of hybrid aircraft is more likely to become widespread. Boeing acquired the electric aircraft startup Zunum Aero in 2017, announcing that it will allow passengers to board hybrid electric-powered aircraft by 2020.
Airbus is also planning to transform the A320 into a hybrid aircraft. It is also working with manufacturer Rolls-Royce to try to gradually replace two of the four BAe 146 engines with electric engines.
Until there is no major breakthrough in battery technology, consumers will not be able to travel long distances in all-electric planes, but if it can be achieved one day, it may not be just the aviation industry.