Canada sets the scene for world’s first flight of a commercial electric aircraft
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Dec 10, 2019
Luke Sarabia

B.C.-based Harbour Air launches toward its goal of becoming the world’s first all-electric airline

Photo: Harbour Air Seaplane

B.C.-based Harbour Air launches towards its goal of becoming the world’s first all-electric airline

One hundred and sixteen years after the Wright Brothers first took flight, the world’s first all-electric airplane successfully flew this morning at the Harbour Air seaplane terminal in Richmond, B.C.

Harbour Air, North America’s largest seaplane operator, announced in March its goal of becoming the world’s first all-electric airline in partnership with American engineering firm MagniX. Initially planned for Wednesday, the flight was moved up to this morning in order to avoid inclement weather.

“Today is the first step in achieving regulatory approval for this aircraft”

Greg McDougall, CEO, Harbour Air

The plane, which is powered by batteries and a 750-horsepower electric motor, was test flown by Harbour Air CEO Greg McDougall. The event was well-attended in Richmond and online, where the four-minute flight was streamed live for an audience of over 11,000 viewers.

The future of flight?

Harbour Air plans to convert all of its 42-plane fleet to zero-emissions aircrafts within the next several years.

Greg McDougall, CEO of Harbour Air and the flight's test pilot, and Roei Ganzarski, CEO, MagniX. Photo Harbour Air
Greg McDougall (L), CEO of Harbour Air and the flight’s test pilot, and Roei Ganzarski, CEO, MagniX. Photo: Harbour Air

“I’ve been convinced for some period of time that the future of transportation in general, and certainly in aviation, is electrified,” McDougall said in a video announcement released Sunday.

The airline flies over 500,000 passengers per year on 12 routes within coastal B.C. and Washington State. Although the range of the electric motor flown today was limited, once the technology is proven, Harbour Air says it will be ideal for its short-haul flights.

“We’re proud to be those people that are leading the process,” said McDougall. “There’s no reason we can’t achieve the things that would have a major impact on our future.”

“The aircraft wanted to leap off the water,” says Greg McDougall, test pilot of the flight and CEO of Harbour Air
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