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Harbour Air commits to going electric

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Tiger Tim

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This seems like as good a place as any for this:

https://www.harbourair.com/harbour-air-and-magnix-partner-to-build-worlds-first-all-electric-airline/

And the powerplant:

https://www.magnix.aero/

Harbour Air is an interesting operation, I've been down to their main seaplane base in downtown Vancouver where they come and go all day. I wouldn't get anything done if I worked within three miles of the place.

Somewhere I had seen they plan to have the first electric-converted Beaver (eww) operational on revenue flights in two years. I'm a little skeptical on their timeline (and some other things) but it's interesting none the less.
 

BoKu

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The article said they will install a 350hp motor. (to replace the 450hp radial)
I suspect that they're going to miss that hundred horsepower. I'm sure that an electric installation can save a lot of drag, but that won't help them climbing out. I suppose that the total installed weight of the electric motor and batteries might be less than the radial engine and fuel supply, but given the energy density of lithium batteries I have my doubts.
 

radfordc

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The article in the first paragraph says, "magniX, the company powering the electric aviation revolution, and Harbour Air, North America’s largest seaplane airline, today announced a partnership to transform Harbour Air seaplanes into an all-electric commercial fleet powered by the magni500, a 750 horsepower (HP) all-electric motor."
 

John.Roo

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Interesting!
FIrst of all - I am glad that more and more companies beleive in electric propulsion in aviation.
But DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver as electric airplane? Really?
BoKu pointed problem perfectly. Small advantage in more aerodynamic powerplant instalation, but at least three signifficant "practical" problems...

Typical problem number one - batteries.
What type of batteries they want to use?
953 kg is Beaver usefull load.
Approx. 300 kg is the radial engine.
Lets take all this weight only for batteries (not realistic I know, however lets do it).
1 300 kg battery will have capacity 350 kWh (actually you can get +-265 Wh/kg).
In reality you need some weight for passengers etc.
Not necessary to continue...

Second problem - cooling.
I know it sound easy - efficiency of 93,8 % is great in compare with combustion engines. However you still need to remove approx. 16 kW of heat from 60 kg motor.
In reality will be probably even more...
Higher temperture = lower efficiency.
Lower efficiency means more heat... etc.

Third problem - infrastructure.
Airplane makes profit when is in the air. So you need to recharge as quickly as possible. To re-charge 350 kWh battery in 30 minutes you need over 700 kW of power (not incl. efficiency, but you will probably not land with empty battery... so just for impression). Beaver is typical "bush plane" landing on lakes and rivers in wild. But even if you use big airport infrastructure you will have problem to find out energy source for one relativelly small airplane.

To be positive... every project like that moves development forward. More efficient and aerodynamic design for GA airplanes, new chargers, new batteries... And that is positive for our small sport aviation :)

Best regards!
Martin
 

BBerson

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750hp is likely for the Otter.
I meant where it said this: "
The first aircraft to be converted will be the DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver, a six-passenger commercial aircraft used across Harbour Air’s route network. Harbour Air and magniX expect to conduct first flight tests of the all-electric aircraft in late 2019.

This partnership follows significant milestones for both companies, including the successful testing of magniX’s 350 HP all-electric motor and the addition of a Vancouver to Seattle route in Harbour Air’s destination roster."
 

rv6ejguy

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I got lost at the "Carbon Neutral" comment...

This might work on their short flights but is not feasible for their longer routes. As Martin said, you make money when airplanes are flying, not sitting being charged. They are going to run 440V 3 phase power out to all their docks sitting in salt water? Hmmm.

The whole concept seems ill conceived and premature as the first E Beaver hasn't even flown yet. Better fly it and get some numbers before making an announcement like this. The reality will set in quickly I think.
 

rcpaynewv

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The HP 350 electric vs 450 Internal combustion engine question needs understanding that electric motors have very high torque at zero rpm and a relative flat HP OVER THE RPM range while IC engines have 0 HP at 0 rpm raising linearly to maximum at cruise or takeoff rpm.
My experience converting my Porsche 911 from 130 HP @ 6500 rpm is replaced nicely with a 100 HP electric motor. 2200 lbs gross weight.
Batteries will limit range significantly, my guess 50% for equivalent weight. My Porsche 911 range limit for exact weight replacement has been reduced to 25%. My area to be covered is an island with no long trips planned.
 

rv6ejguy

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The HP 350 electric vs 450 Internal combustion engine question needs understanding that electric motors have very high torque at zero rpm and a relative flat HP OVER THE RPM range while IC engines have 0 HP at 0 rpm raising linearly to maximum at cruise or takeoff rpm.
This doesn't matter in aircraft which operate at continuous high power. HP is HP. Amount of work done per unit time. Will still take X hp to cruise at 120 knots whether delivered by electric motor or IC engine. That is the downfall compared to cars where average hp to cruise is around 15-20. A Beaver on floats would take about 20X+ the power to cruise as your average car on the highway. This equals a massive battery as has already been stated.

Surely the engineers at the electric motor company have run some numbers for these folks already...

350hp won't get the Beaver out of the water at gross weight very well me thinks.
 
Last edited:

JeffTinAZ

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Having flown with Harbor Air a number of times from both their Vancouver and Seattle bases, I think I can see that this idea is a perfect match for electric power (although I admit an electric seaplane seems like the wrong application at first). A good portion of their fleet is used for sightseeing flights lasting between 15 and 30 minutes in duration. The airplanes return back to the base where the charging infrastructure is installed. Turnaround time will be affected to some degree, but the cost savings over operating an R985 have to be considerable.

The article states that their fleet will be powered by the 750 hp version, not that the Beaver will be utilizing all of that capability. I would bet that the initial installation on the Beaver will be limited to the same torque and rpm as the R985 to make certification less onerous.
 

BBerson

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What happens when a 500 volt controller is immersed in sea water?
I watched a RC model seaplane catch fire when the controller got wet in fresh water.
 

radfordc

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What happens when a 500 volt controller is immersed in sea water?
I watched a RC model seaplane catch fire when the controller got wet in fresh water.
Probably nothing good...but if a Beaver is under water you're having a bad day anyway!
 

Dan Thomas

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Sep 17, 2008
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Seems almost sacrilegious to pull a 985 off the nose of a Beaver for ANY reason, but it will be interesting to see what happens.
Their problem is the same as any other operator running ancient radials: difficuties with parts availability, short TBOs, and overhaul costs. The replacement has been the PT-6, which is horribly expensive. I can see why they would be trying electric for the short runs.
 

Mad MAC

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Will be interesting to see how well it works.

Soooo how long before someone puts the 750hp electric motor in a cub with a couple of minutes of battery's for the Valdez STOL competition.
 

John.Roo

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Lifetime of battery and safety of electric propulsion depend a lot on current (Amps) you take from cells and cells temperature. RC model Li-Po cells are designed for short lifetime and high current - thats is the "C" number. Li-Ion cells are more limited. In other words - if you need to take 100 kW power from 100 kWh battery than is +-OK. If you would like to take 200-300 kW power from 100 kWh battery than is acceptable, however you have to take care of battery temperature. If you would like to take 500 kW from 10 kWh battery (with approx. 50 kg weight) than be prepared for interesting pyrotechnic effects :) Approx. the same is valid for re-charging. For example Tesla cars they have temperature management system (cooling) for battery to allow for short time high power and supercharging and keep battery temperature in limits.

Best regards!
Martin
 

henryk

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krakow,poland
This seems like as good a place as any for this:

https://www.harbourair.com/harbour-air-and-magnix-partner-to-build-worlds-first-all-electric-airline/

And the powerplant:

https://www.magnix.aero/

Harbour Air is an interesting operation, I've been down to their main seaplane base in downtown Vancouver where they come and go all day. I wouldn't get anything done if I worked within three miles of the place.

Somewhere I had seen they plan to have the first electric-converted Beaver (eww) operational on revenue flights in two years. I'm a little skeptical on their timeline (and some other things) but it's interesting none the less.

=low power, very low take off speed (from water !)
 

ToddK

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The Real Texas
This is publicity via vapor ware. *If* they get it in the air (a big if) the useful load, flight time, and turn around between flights will make it practically useless. I am guessing a few "green" propaganda fights for the news media, tech writers, and some political types and that's that. Battery tech has a loooong way to go. Gasoline holds about 34 megajoules per liter, and can be refueled in a few min. A Lithium-ion battery typically has about 2 megajoules per liter, takes much longer to recharge, and has a fixed useful life. Trying to force it now is a total waste of money. Once Samsung or Tesla, or whoever with giant labs and R&D budges develops the battery tech it will be obvious to everyone and will find its way into aviation after being certified and costing quadruple the price of non aviation batteries.
 
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