Last December, a small seaplane soared over Vancouver, marking the world’s first electric commercial aircraft flight. For Harbour Air, it was a first step toward its goal of operating an all-electric, 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:
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.
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.
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.