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[BBC] 'World's first' fully-electric commercial flight takes off

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post #1 of 96 (permalink) Old 12-11-2019, 09:12 AM - Thread Starter
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[BBC] 'World's first' fully-electric commercial flight takes off


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An all-electric powered seaplane has taken flight in Vancouver, Canada, in what the operators describe as a "world first" for the aviation industry.

The short test flight by Harbour Air and magniX involved a six-passenger aircraft fitted with an electric motor.
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Awesome stuff, and in my back yard too. What the article doesn't mention is that the test flight was done by the company's CEO - now there's someone who believes in leadership.

Before people start, a few obvious points:
  • Yes, the range is limited, but Harbour Air typically only flies routes <70nmi, which are within the range of this plane (with adequate margin)
  • Yes, this would not work for longer routes
  • Yes, it's only carbon neutral if you generate the power in a renewable manner, which in BC we do (~95 renewable)
  • Yes, they still have to prove reliability

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Last edited by GingerJohn; 12-11-2019 at 12:09 PM.
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post #2 of 96 (permalink) Old 12-11-2019, 09:19 AM
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something something, rabble rabble, range, lame, etc etc.

in reality - this is huge for regional and puddle jumping airports.

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post #3 of 96 (permalink) Old 12-11-2019, 09:40 AM
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That's pretty awesome! I bet it's an unusual feeling to fly a plane that size without the engine exhaust noise. I loved the switched to electric in rc planes, they started sounding awesome with nothing but prop noise.

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post #4 of 96 (permalink) Old 12-11-2019, 10:22 AM
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Can someone enlighten me on why this is a big deal and why it's not rather common already?

I get that batteries are heavy, but I wouldn't think they would be that much heavier than a full fuel cell to make it a big deal. Obviously with larger jets those few extra pounds will add up quick, but with smaller aircraft like this one, it seems like it would be easy to someone like myself with zero knowledge or understanding.


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post #5 of 96 (permalink) Old 12-11-2019, 10:56 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote: Originally Posted by DNMock View Post
Can someone enlighten me on why this is a big deal and why it's not rather common already?

I get that batteries are heavy, but I wouldn't think they would be that much heavier than a full fuel cell to make it a big deal. Obviously with larger jets those few extra pounds will add up quick, but with smaller aircraft like this one, it seems like it would be easy to someone like myself with zero knowledge or understanding.
Pretty much the bold bit. The energy density of batteries is still a couple of orders of magnitude short of jet fuel, nowhere near enough to power a large plane for long. From Science Direct:



One other drawback is that planes get lighter as they burn fuel, extending their range, whereas batteries maintain the same weight throughout the flight.

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post #6 of 96 (permalink) Old 12-11-2019, 11:01 AM
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Quote: Originally Posted by GingerJohn View Post
Pretty much the bold bit. The energy density of batteries is still a couple of orders of magnitude short of jet fuel, nowhere near enough to power a large plane for long. From Science Direct:



One other drawback is that planes get lighter as they burn fuel, extending their range, whereas batteries maintain the same weight throughout the flight.
Oh Lordie, didn't know it was that big of a disparity still. People talk like batteries have really closed the gap lately. Stupid me for not looking into the data itself and just rolling with what I hear.

Thanks for the heads up

Edit: Hard to imagine that the graph you linked is really just a tiny portion of the full graph of energy production. Rocket fuel converts what, like,3% of it's mass to energy?



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post #7 of 96 (permalink) Old 12-11-2019, 11:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote: Originally Posted by DNMock View Post
Oh Lordie, didn't know it was that big of a disparity still. People talk like batteries have really closed the gap lately. Stupid me for not looking into the data itself and just rolling with what I hear.

Thanks for the heads up
They've got a lot better recently, but still nowhere near fossil fuels. The difference is partially mitigated by the efficiency of electric motors vs their fossil fuel alternatives, but that still brings it to a factor of 40-50 times less energy dense (for cars at least).

With cars the other advantage is that you don't use energy whilst stationary, sadly planes can't do this. Well, more than once.

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Last edited by GingerJohn; 12-11-2019 at 11:16 AM.
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post #8 of 96 (permalink) Old 12-11-2019, 11:20 AM
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WTB solid state batteries already.

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post #9 of 96 (permalink) Old 12-11-2019, 12:00 PM
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Quote: Originally Posted by GingerJohn View Post



Source

Awesome stuff, and in my back yard too. What the article doesn't mention is that the test flight was done by the company's CEO - now there's someone who believes in leadership.

Before people start, a few obvious points:
  • Yes, the range is limited, but Harbour Air typically only flies routes <70nm, which are within the range of this plane (with adequate margin)
  • Yes, this would not work for longer routes
  • Yes, it's only carbon neutral if you generate the power in a renewable manner, which in BC we do (~95 renewable)
  • Yes, they still have to prove reliability
This is new? Lithium batteries have been around a while and even without them some short hop was possible.
70 nano meters sure is an easy range to achieve.
It does work for longer routes but not so much with heavy passengers and a heavy aircraft.
Reliability... probably miles better than controlled explosion engines.

Yes batteries are still insanely behind burnable fuels in energy density and weight.
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post #10 of 96 (permalink) Old 12-11-2019, 12:07 PM
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Quote: Originally Posted by JackCY View Post
This is new? Lithium batteries have been around a while and even without them some short hop was possible.
70 nano meters sure is an easy range to achieve.
It does work for longer routes but not so much with heavy passengers and a heavy aircraft.
Reliability... probably miles better than controlled explosion engines.

Yes batteries are still insanely behind burnable fuels in energy density and weight.
lol, Nautical Miles not Nano Meters


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