Published on October 29th, 2019 | by Nicolas Zart
October 29th, 2019 by Nicolas Zart
We’ve heard about electric air mobility for a few years now, and even electric boats, but Harbour Air, based in Vancouver, Canada, is the only one tackling electric seaplanes, as we previously covered.
Harbour Air Gets Closer To World’s First Seaplane
We’ve now got some updates from Harbour Air Seaplane’s conversion to electricity. MagniX has stepped up to the plate to tackle the air and sea element. The company has now created a dedicated space in its aircraft hangar and has been working on converting the seaplane to electricity.
Following the same philosophy as Ampaire’s — converting an existing aircraft to electricity, presumably a DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver — Harbour Air is installing a 750 hp magniX motor and connecting it to the internal systems in preparation for its first flight. This should give the aircraft enough energy for an hour of flight. The team reports being on track for the first test flight before the end of the year. They expect a test timeframe by mid-November.[embedded content]
In short, the company says it is on track to meet its milestones in the conversion of the world’s first seaplane to e-plane. We’ve reached out to the team and expect more information. So far, Harbour Aircraft has done the following:
- Aircraft painted and decals applied
- Motor mount received and installed
- Ground charging station arrived and wired in
- Battery mounts fabricated and installed
- Cockpit reconfigured and modified
- Aircraft installed on floats
- Motor arrived and installed
- Inverters arrived and installed
- Inverter cooling system developed and installed
- magniX team arrived on site to work with Harbour Air team
- Wiring harnesses being built
- Inverters and motor calibrated
- Software development being completed on site
- First battery string arrived
- Worked through regulatory requirements to achieve first test flight
- magniX test equipment installed
- 28V system install completed and checked
It says it needs to receive the final battery strings and install a BMU (battery management unit). This will be followed by — cross fingers — putting power on and beginning the actual testing of the aircraft. That will be followed by continuing to develop and connecting the wiring harness.
Harbour Air says it is the world’s largest floatplane-only airline and it wants to switch over to electricity. It has 40 aircraft, 39 registered with Transport Canada.
This is a growing trend we’re seeing among aviation operators. They are looking to electricity to cut down on maintenance and energy cost, and, of course, to lower their emissions and noise signature. Congratulations to Harbour Air on being the first to electrify a seaplane.