Vancouver-based Harbour Air intends to become the first all-electric airline by converting its fleet of mostly decades old heritage airframes to battery power. The airline, which is one of the world’s largest seaplane-only carriers, operates 42 aircraft, all but one Cessna Caravan a mix of Beavers, Otters and Twin Otters. It flies more than 500,000 passengers a year, entirely on short hops between coastal communities, including daily flights between Seattle and Vancouver harbours.
Founder Greg McDougall said in a news release the first generation of batteries on the aircraft will allow for 30 minutes of flight time with a 30-minute reserve. The aircraft also operate within gliding distance of water virtually all the time so emergency landings are less of a concern. The first conversion will be a Beaver and first flights are anticipated this year. McDougall said safety will be the foremost concern and he’s not worried. “I wouldn’t put myself in there if I thought there was a problem. I certainly wouldn’t put my loved ones in there if I thought there was a problem – or my passengers,” Mr. McDougall told the Globe and Mail. “We have to prove a standard of safety that’s equal to or better than what we currently have.”