A converted all-electric de Havilland Beaver seaplane goes through testing. (Harbour Air via H55)
One of the pioneers of battery-powered aviation is joining a Pacific Northwest team that’s aiming to get an all-electric seaplane certified for service in Canada.
H55, the Swiss battery venture co-founded by Solar Impulse pilot André Borschberg, is partnering with Vancouver, B.C.-based Harbour Air Seaplanes and Everett, Wash.-based MagniX on their project to convert De Havilland Beaver commuter airplanes to all-electric power.
Harbour Air is providing the Beaver, MagniX is providing the electric propulsion system, and now H55 will provide its advanced battery modules to power the plane.
MagniX and Harbour Air have been putting a prototype eBeaver through flight tests since December 2019 to gather data on such parameters as cruise performance, takeoff thrust efficiency, electromagnetic interference and noise levels. The team is working with Transport Canada on a supplemental type certificate program to clear converted all-electric planes for commercial operations by as early as next year.
Eventually, Harbour Air plans to transform all of its seaplanes into an all-electric fleet. The company provides commuter air service to a locations along British Columbia’s coast, plus “nerd bird” flights between Vancouver and Seattle.
H55 was founded to continue the vision of Solar Impulse 2, which Borschberg and fellow adventurer Bertrand Piccard piloted around the world on a historic solar-powered trip in 2015-2016.
“I believe that H55 is the leading company in aviation battery solutions,” Harbour Air CEO Greg McDougall said today in a news release. “Having them as partners in the ePlane development means that we will be able to lead the global push for electric aviation.”
Borschberg, who serves as H55’s executive chairman, said he was attracted by the all-electric vision laid out by Harbour Air and MagniX.
“We all understand that the path to electric aviation is complicated,” he said. “But at the same time, by joining forces, our combined experience will lead to quicker certification. And this in turn will offer a fast and safe way to reach the market and popularize electric aviation.”
MagniX CEO Roei Ganzarski said the expanded partnership marks “another step forward in our vision of making emission-free, all-electric aircraft a reality.”
“With Harbour Air leading the way to become an all-electric airline, H55’s battery technology and MagniX’s flight-proven propulsion, we are looking at an electrifying future,” Ganzarski said.
MagniX — which recently moved its headquarters from Redmond, Wash., to a new 40,000-square-foot production facility in Everett — is also developing propulsion systems for converted Cessna Caravans operated by Sydney Seaplanes in Australia, for Eviation’s all-electric Alice airplane, for planes that Universal Hydrogen will convert to run on fuel-cell power, and for Faradair’s future fleet of hybrid triplanes.