Harbour Air made what it said was the world’s first flight by an all-electric commercial aircraft on Tuesday when one of its re-engined DHC-2 de Havilland Beavers took off from Richmond, near Vancouver in British Columbia. The six-passenger aircraft, piloted by company CEO Greg McDougall, made a short test flight powered by a single 750-hp Magnix magni500 electric motor.
The Canadian operator’s goal is to be ready to operate scheduled passenger flights in all-electric aircraft within two years. In addition to the DHC-2 Beaver, it operates a 40-strong fleet of larger DHC-3 Turbine Single Otters and DHC-6 Twin Otters. Magnix expects that it will take until the end of 2021 to get the required supplemental type certificates for the three aircraft.
Harbour Air's network connects Vancouver and Seattle with Pacific Northwest destinations—including Victoria, Nanaimo, Tofino, Whistler, Sechelt, Salt Spring Island, Pitt Meadows, Maple Bay and Comox. It carries around 500,000 passengers each year, with around 300 daily flights between scheduled and charter services.
U.S.-based Magnix is developing electric propulsion systems for a variety of aircraft applications. These include the all-electric Alice fixed-wing design being developed by its sister company, Eviation Aircraft, as well as electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.
According to Magnix, the magni500 motor is designed for so-called 'Middle-Mile', short range aircraft that would also include models such as the Cessna Caravan and Beechcraft King Air. It turns propellers at 1,900 RPM.