Harbour Air’s Electric Beaver has Flown!

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Hephaestus

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biggest take away

With the 185-lb payload of the prototype (with the pilot), it is obvious that a battery-operated Beaver is not yet commercially viable. The key to the success of this project is advancement of battery technology. The pace of this advancement is such that McDougall expects to have a commercially viable electric Beaver in service in southwestern British Columbia before the end of 2022.
 

TFF

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That’s a couple of trout you can carry. Everybody else on the trip is still walking.
 

12notes

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biggest take away
Well, if they replace the LiFePO4 batteries at 135Wh/kg with the widely available Li-Co (commonly known as lithium ion) that currently are 270 Wh/kg, their battery weight is cut roughly in half. Payload would be in the neighborhood of 1185 lbs in addition to the pilot, since the Beaver only holds 6 passengers, this is acceptable.

They were never planning on running the commercial flights with the LiFePO4 batteries, just used them for the test flight.
 

12notes

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WARNING: This article contains the phrase "Development and commercialization will likely take three to five years." - which usually translates to "Numbers based on extrapolation from lab experiments an we have no idea of if it's mass producible, what it will cost, what the battery's lifetime will be or if it works under anything but ideal conditions."

Leadership seems pretty solid - "Greenshields (Chairman) and Innolith’s CEO Sergey Buchin are well-aware. Previously, the two men were the chief technology officer and chief operating officer, respectively, of Swiss-battery maker Alevo. That company filed for bankruptcy in 2017"
 

Riggerrob

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R-985 engines were sold off as surplus for pennies on the dollar at the end of World War 2. P&WC, DHC, etc. snapped them up at auction , overhauled them and re-sold them to power post-war production. Consider how few Anson Mark Vs are still flyable.

According to Wikipedia, Harbour Air operates a fleet of 40 floatplanes. Most are deHavilland of Canada Beavers, Otters and Twin Otters. Wikipedia also makes vague references to a Cessna 185 and a 208 Caravan. The last time I met him, the owner arrived in a Robinson 44 helicopter.
All of the single Otters have been converted to turbines.
Beavers are one of the few West Coast floatplanes still chugging along behind P&W R 985 radial engines. However, Kenmore, Viking, etc. have converted dozens of original Beavers to Turbo-Beavers.
I suspect that Harbour Air's motivation is a shortage of R-985 engines that are still in good enough shape to be overhauled .... AGAIN .... Consider that P&W built more than 39,000 R-985 engines - the majority during WW2 - and the last left the production line in 1953. That makes the youngest R-985 engine 68 years old! ... with the majority being more than 74 years old!
 
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tspear

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I recall some press early on where Harbour Air said the cost to maintain the planes is rising every year, and parts are an issue. Combined with planes that are potential replacements cost many times more to operate; largely due to the fact they are designed for flights of much longer duration.
How much of that is marketing spin, how much is dreams, and how much real, I have no idea.

Tim
 

rv6ejguy

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I tried to book a flight on Harbour Air a few years back and I was astounded at the price of the ticket. I guess the rich folks on the islands don't care so I don't think costs have much to do with all this. It's marketing in my view. Until someone comes along with much higher energy density batteries and way faster charge times, this isn't going anywhere. The first flight was just a technology demonstrator and it was pretty cool but commercially useless outside of a stepping stone to the future.
 

Riggerrob

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Dear rv6ejguy,
Harbour Air competes directly with HeliJet for flights from downtown Vancouver to downtown Nanaimo, downtown Victoria, etc. Most flights last less than an hour. A typical flight from Vancouver Harbour to Victoria Harbour costs $160 to $290. on a Monday morning.
HeliJet charges even more ($375.) for similar short flights in their Sikorsky S-76 choppers.
Both companies depart from Waterfront Station, Vancouver (a transit hub connecting 2 Skytrain lines, Seabus and West Coast Express ... a mere 10 minute walk from the Vancouver Law Courts) and land within sight of the Provincial Parliament Buildings in Victoria.

The alternative is driving 1 hour to the ferry boat terminal (Tswassen) , waiting for the next ferry boat, a 90 minute ferry boat ride (Sydney), then driving from the ferry dock to downtown Victoria, a 3 to 5 hour journey.
In comparison, Vancouver International Airport is about 45 minutes from downtown by Skytrain and Victoria International Airport is more like an hour's drive from the city center.
 

Dan Thomas

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Dear rv6ejguy,
Harbour Air competes directly with HeliJet for flights from downtown Vancouver to downtown Nanaimo, downtown Victoria, etc. Most flights last less than an hour. A typical flight from Vancouver Harbour to Victoria Harbour costs $160 to $290. on a Monday morning.
I understand that much of their business is hauling bureaucrats back and forth between Victoria (the provincial capital) and Vancouver (the business center of BC). Lots of it is just commuting to work and back, I think. Tax dollars at work.
 

Riggerrob

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I understand that much of their business is hauling bureaucrats back and forth between Victoria (the provincial capital) and Vancouver (the business center of BC). Lots of it is just commuting to work and back, I think. Tax dollars at work.
Yes, most definitely tax dollars at work.
Though after 9 years experience with some of the "professionals" - who work at the Vancouver Law Courts - I would rather see them swim past the Killer Whales that frequent our waters.
Hah!
Hah!
 
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rv6ejguy

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Dear rv6ejguy,
Harbour Air competes directly with HeliJet for flights from downtown Vancouver to downtown Nanaimo, downtown Victoria, etc. Most flights last less than an hour. A typical flight from Vancouver Harbour to Victoria Harbour costs $160 to $290. on a Monday morning.
HeliJet charges even more ($375.) for similar short flights in their Sikorsky S-76 choppers.
Both companies depart from Waterfront Station, Vancouver (a transit hub connecting 2 Skytrain lines, Seabus and West Coast Express ... a mere 10 minute walk from the Vancouver Law Courts) and land within sight of the Provincial Parliament Buildings in Victoria.

The alternative is driving 1 hour to the ferry boat terminal (Tswassen) , waiting for the next ferry boat, a 90 minute ferry boat ride (Sydney), then driving from the ferry dock to downtown Victoria, a 3 to 5 hour journey.
In comparison, Vancouver International Airport is about 45 minutes from downtown by Skytrain and Victoria International Airport is more like an hour's drive from the city center.
I was booking to Cortez Island. Was around $800 return if I recall.
 

Victor Bravo

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If the rarity of the 985 engine itself is the problem, then they could have just put the existing turbine conversion on the Beaver and been done with it.

If they really really needed to use electric power, then I'm guessing a turbine powered electric generator or alternator to run the motor would still yield a better eventual aircraft payload than batteries.
 

Angusnofangus

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The alternative is driving 1 hour to the ferry boat terminal (Tswassen) , waiting for the next ferry boat, a 90 minute ferry boat ride (Sydney), then driving from the ferry dock to downtown Victoria, a 3 to 5 hour journey.
In comparison, Vancouver International Airport is about 45 minutes from downtown by Skytrain and Victoria International Airport is more like an hour's drive from the city center.
Sorry to be so picky, but it is 'Sidney'. Sydney is in both Nova Scotia and Australia. Also it is just half an hour from YYJ to downtown.
 
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