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Harbour Air commits to going electric

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BBerson

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Yeah, green propaganda claims to get into the Seattle green market.
The FAA doesn't have plans to approve commercial electric propulsion anytime soon, as far as I know.
 

Toobuilder

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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.
Oh I get the practical reasons. But I'd much rather see an airplane devoid of a soul stripped of the vibrant, beating heart like a P&W radial..

An electric Cessna Caravan wouldn't bother me one bit.
 

Dan Thomas

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Oh I get the practical reasons. But I'd much rather see an airplane devoid of a soul stripped of the vibrant, beating heart like a P&W radial..
Agreed. For me, the spoiler would be an electric P-51 or Spitfire.

And electric airplanes aren't going to inspire youth to learn to fly like roaring piston engines. Noise and smoke are essential to that, aren't they?
 

rv6ejguy

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My brother is working with a German company who's developed a new compound which can be used for batteries having about 3 times the storage capacity per unit weight over current lithium cells. Some development is being pursued in conjunction with a Canadian University presently. If this works out, it would be a game changer for aeronautical applications. I can't say much more about it at this time.
 

radfordc

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Electric powered giant scale models have caught and even surpassed the performance of gas powered models in every area except duration. Even if this project is just to get attention I'm glad that the effort is being made. No one expected lithium batteries to be practical...until they were. Will batteries improve....yes, in time. Will electric power technology be ready for improved batteries...only if the R&D is done in advance.
 

RonL

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upload_2019-3-31_11-40-10.pngupload_2019-3-31_11-40-10.png This did not seem to catch anyone's attention, superconducting should answer the heat concern, so IMHO answers will start to appear when capacitors function more like batteries and batteries function more like capacitors. Using knowledge of the locked rotor characteristics of motors and generators, soon (I suspect) it will be clear that planes will be flying around with more power than they really need.
Just need to stir the pot a little.
 

Dana

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As skeptical as I am about electric aircraft and without knowing anything about the specific proposed hardware, it does look feasible for their very narrow mission, i.e. short flights. As far as weight, Beavers are known for being able to lift pretty much anything you can fit through the door, so in a six passenger configuration there's probably plenty of useful load left for batteries.

As far as sacrilege, I read somewhere else that the proposed aircraft are ones that have been already converted to turboprop, so it's not quite as bad as pulling the 985s off.
 

markaeric

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When you consider cycle life of the cells, a plane which flies 3 times a day, 7 days a week may need its battery pack replaced after 2 years depending on how much margin in terms of pack capacity it had for its intended mission. I doubt that's cheaper than an engine overhaul.

For a plane that needs to make numerous flights a day, I think the ideal configuration would be swapable packs. There's more up-front costs of course, but total lifetime is multiplied by the number of packs, and they can be safely charged while the plane is flying on a different pack.

I agree that a Beaver seems like an unfortunate aircraft to do this to. A Caravan as toobuilder suggested, or some other non-classic utilitarian plane. Otherwise I think an electric aircraft would give a quieter, and therefore a [arguably] better flying experience for passengers... At least when it's not on fire.
 

Riggerrob

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I suspect that Harbour Air will start with Turbo-Beaver airframes to balance the much lighter electric motor.
Stock DHC-2 Mark I Beavers left the factory with R-985 radial engines and three rows of seats holding a pilot plus 6 passengers.
DHC-2T Turbo Beavers have P&WC PT6 engines, a 28” plug forward of the wing, four rows of seats and carry a pilot plus 8 passengers. The 28” plug helps balance the much lighter turboprop and adds an extra row of seats.
Only 60 Turbo Beavers were built by DHC but dozens of piston Beavers were converted by Viking, etc.

For comparison, Harbour Air flies a flock of single-engines DHC-3 Otters that have been converted to turboprops (PT6A). Even with the long nose, some Turbo-Otter conversions need a balance weight just behind the propeller.
 

Riggerrob

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In other news, magniX and Harbour Air recently announced a partnership with Skydive Vancouver. The new electric Beaver will Beta-test at Skydive Vancouver’s airstrip at Masqui (between Abbottsford and Mission, BC).
SV owner Jerry Harper was thrilled by the news saying: “Our other two turbines are so busy hauling tandems that we need a third airplane to keep our fun jumpers happy. A couple of years ago we installed a swimming pool and added a hot tub last year. The girls are polishing the new stripper pole. We value our fun jumpers and hope they enjoy a quick, quiet ride to altitude.”
SV’s fleet includes a (turbine) Pilates Porter, a (turbine) Quest Kodiak and a variety of piston-powered Cessnas.
 

lr27

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The electric motor having high torque even at low rpm is going to help with the takeoff. If it swings a larger prop, that will mean more thrust at low speeds as well.

If carrying 350 kW hours of battery, that ought to be good for well over an hour, probably quite a bit longer at slow speeds. If averaging 200 hp over a flight, that leaves a lot of extra battery capacity during a 30 minute flight. That should help with battery life.

The idea of high voltage around seawater sounds like it MIGHT get a little exciting.

Not going to dismiss this application out of hand without knowing more.
 

TFF

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Let’s say electric motors are a success. This is what I see will happen, airplane or car. It’s going to emulate the watch industry. Seiko with the quartz watch singlehanded killed the mechanical watch but one thing, soul. Knowing what time it is how society works. With what you tell time with is how you think about telling time. Pure time telling, my phone does just fine. For years and years I never wore a watch, why when everything around you are showing time. Never liked digital watches, never liked the quartz Seikos I had. No love. I wanted the Timex my grandfather gave me when I was seven. I wanted a mechanic watch. Now that’s something I can get into. They need an owner. Someone to keep them running; they provide a little bit of fascination every time I read the time. I don’t have any fancy watches but they give more than just the time. Electric transportation will be for the people who commute. Engine powered transportation will be for the people who want more than just getting there.
 

lr27

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I dunno about that.
I think electric will be great for launching sailplanes, too.
Anyway, I don't like loud noise, but I like aircraft.

I'll admit I could go for one of those old Waltham watches, but the one I bought before (as a gift) didn't turn out to be reliable. They're pretty, though. I also have a restored Seth Thomas wall clock that IS reliable. However, my usual time piece is a dinky little Casio, even though I grew up with at least one of those little old Timex's and even a couple of cheap pocket watches..
 

radfordc

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I like my airplanes like I like my watch... Casio solar wave with atomic clock time keeping. Never needs a battery, or charging, or time setting. Everything is automatic. It's the only watch I've ever really liked.
 

radfordc

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Thinking about it, an electric power system with solar charging would be ideal for my Eindecker. I only fly a few hours each year and never more than 40 minutes or so for one flight; mostly at local airshows and events. The plane is truly just a "toy".

Replace the 160 lbs of Rotax engine, starter, battery, fuel, etc with a light weight 50-75 hp electric motor capable of turning a 72" prop and a 80-100 lb Lithium battery and I'll bet it would work great. Something like this:
 

lr27

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You could put in a big speaker so that it actually SOUNDED like an Eindecker. ;-)
 
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