Harbour Air

Harbour Air set for historic ePlane flight Tuesday

An electrically-powered Beaver taxis on the Fraser River in Richmond, British Columbia Monday (photo: Harbour Air).

Final preparations are under way for the world’s first flight of an electrically-powered De Havilland Beaver seaplane Tuesday morning on the Fraser River just south of Vancouver International Airport.

Concerned by unfavourable weather forecasts, Harbour Air moved up its plans by a day deciding to take advantage of a break in the typically gloomy West Coast winter weather. For flight time at 8:30 Pacific Tuesday morning, forecasts call for winds out of the east at 18 km/h with good visibility and a few scattered clouds. A special permit requires good weather for the flight.

The airline will provide a live feed of the historic moment on its webpage starting at 8 Pacific Tuesday morning.

Harbour Air has partnered with magniX to stage the flight, fitting a 750-horsepower electric engine to the Beaver. It’s the first step in what the airline hopes will make it the first electrically-powered fleet. “A significant milestone,” said the airline in an e-mail, “this first test flight will usher in a new era of aviation and begin the transformation of Harbour Air’s seaplanes into the first all-electric commercial fleet.”

Harbour Air is a regional airline based in Vancouver with service to coastal points with float plane bases. Its services are well positioned for the revolutionary innovation – current technology means electric planes are well suited to short-haul, small plane operations.

The airline already advertises it has been carbon-neutral since 2007. A successful fleet conversion would further dramatically reduce carbon emissions.

Greg McDougall, Harbour Air Chief Executive Officer, plans to pilot the first test flight.

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