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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)

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.
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 <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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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
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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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
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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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
70 nano meters sure is an easy range to achieve.
nm in this context would be Nautical Miles, the standard unit of distance for aviation, although to be fair I got the case wrong (should be NM, or nmi)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Onboard (well, under wing) video of the test flight:


And an external video on the CBC article about it
 

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Discussion Starter · #42 ·
It would be nice for consumers if they standardised on batteries, although a bit of a pain for designers. It would be very beneficial for commercial vehicles (trucks, forklifts, light aircraft, etc.), however for private vehicles like cars it would be a nightmare getting the various manufacturers to agree on a standard.

Remember how long it took for cell phone manufacturers to agree on using USB as a standard charging port (looking at you here, Nokia), and even then Apple went and did their own thing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #45 ·
It's gonna be all but impossible to get hot swappable universal batteries since the functions of the vehicles varies so much.
I don't mean commonality between different vehicle types (i.e. same battery for a car works in a plane), I was thinking more commonality within vehicle types, for example every HGV having the same battery package dimensions (note dimensions, not internals).

Standardisation can be difficult, but we do sometimes manage it. For example, AAA / AA/ C / D / PP3 (9V) battery sizes, and electrical outlets (admittedly this varies by country). For vehicles we standardise in a very small way with fuel filler caps - they are all designed to fit the nozzles on the pumps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #50 ·
Segway to the above...carbon-based ultracapacitors etc

story
That is a seriously sexy bike. I realise it is just a concept at this point, but still. I'm excited to see real life Tron cycles (minus the wall thing) become mainstream in my lifetime.

It seems like they are using the carbon ultra-caps as capacitors (makes sense) but with the Li-Ion battery as main energy storage. Not a bad compromise, although not particularly useful for aircraft at this point.
 

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Discussion Starter · #56 ·
Well, infrastructure will develop as adoption increases. A year ago our workplace had no charging points, now we have 50 for the complex (still not enough, it's a big complex). Same with our (former) apartment building - they put charging points in to about 1/4 of the spots. The current building hasn't quite caught on yet though, but then we only just got a modern entryphone system last year.

I'm sure more cities will soon start putting charging stations on streets and running them like parking meters - for example Norway already does something like this.

Still sucks for early adopters, but then I'm sure when the Model T was introduced there were not all that many gas stations around.

Edit: Also, at least near me, gas stations are disappearing fast as developers buy up the land for condo buildings. Ironically the one by my apartment is being bought by the city to build a new subway station...
 
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