Sustainable Energy

World's first fully-electric commercial aircraft completes test flight

Key Points
  • The test flight lasted under 10 minutes.
  • Firms from U.S. and Canada will now jointly begin a certification approval process.
  • The engine, the magni500, was unveiled at the Paris Air Show in June this year.
Harbour Air Pilot and CEO Greg McDougall flies the worlds first all-electric, zero-emission commercial aircraft during a test flight in a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver from Vancouver International Airports South Terminal on the Fraser River in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, December 10, 2019.
DON MACKINNON | AFP | Getty Images

The world's first fully-electric aircraft for commercial flight has taken to the skies in Canada.

The plane flew above the Fraser River outside Vancouver for about seven minutes before touching down at around 8:30 a.m. local time on Tuesday.

The aircraft — an aging six-passenger DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver seaplane — has been retrofitted with a 750-horsepower electric motor built by U.S. firm magniX.

The engine maker from Redmond, Washington, is working in partnership with Canada's Harbour Air Seaplanes with the aim of building a fully electrified fleet of 40 seaplanes.

Operating routes between hubs like Seattle and Vancouver, Harbour Air carries around 500,000 passengers on 30,000 commercial flights each year.

"Today, we made history," said Greg McDougall, CEO and founder of Harbour Air Seaplanes in statement, shortly after piloting the test flight himself.

The engine, the magni500, was unveiled at the Paris Air Show in June this year.

Roei Ganzarski, CEO of magniX, said the electric era of aviation was coming and that the transport industry was "ripe for a massive disruption."

"Now we are proving that low-cost, environmentally friendly, commercial electric air travel can be a reality in the very near future," he added.

MagniX and Harbour Air said they will now begin the certification and approval process for both the engine and the retrofitting of aircraft and hope to be operating an all-electric commercial fleet within two years.