Fast Company

ELECTRIC AIRPLANES

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Last December, a

small seaplane soared over Vancouver, marking the world’s first commercial electric flight.

For Harbour Air, it was a first step toward its goal of operating an allelectri­c, zero-carbon fleet. For Magnix, the startup that makes the electric propulsion system inside the plane, it was a turning point.

Within a little more than a decade, the company argues, every flight less than 1,000 miles could run on electricit­y. Here are three potential benefits:

Zero emissions

CO2 emissions from planes are on track to triple by 2050 and use as much as a quarter of the world’s remaining carbon budget. “The quicker the industry moves to electric aircraft, the sooner we can start to reverse the trend,” says Roei Ganzarski, Magnix’s CEO.

Lower costs

The up-front cost of building an electric plane is similar to that of an ordinary plane, but the electric version is 50% to 70% cheaper to operate, requiring no fuel and less maintenanc­e, which could enable airlines to cut ticket prices.

Reviving airports

Current electric planes may be limited in size, but these small planes could operate from the thousands of regional airports that airlines don’t currently use, making flying more convenient and TSA lines shorter. “I think that people will embrace the flexibilit­y in how and where they fly for a lower price point,” Ganzarski says.

 ??  ?? POWER SOURCE The fuel tanks in the belly of the retrofitte­d plane have been replaced by batteries. LIGHTWEIGH­T In the plane’s nose, the combustion engine has been swapped out for a smaller, lightweigh­t, nearly silent electric motor. SEAPLANE The modified plane, originally built in 1962, is a classic seaplane designed to land on water. CAPACITY The plane can carry up to six people; Magnix also designed an electric system for an 11-passenger Eviation plane that will begin test flights later this year.
POWER SOURCE The fuel tanks in the belly of the retrofitte­d plane have been replaced by batteries. LIGHTWEIGH­T In the plane’s nose, the combustion engine has been swapped out for a smaller, lightweigh­t, nearly silent electric motor. SEAPLANE The modified plane, originally built in 1962, is a classic seaplane designed to land on water. CAPACITY The plane can carry up to six people; Magnix also designed an electric system for an 11-passenger Eviation plane that will begin test flights later this year.

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