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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.
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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· D'ya like onions?
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I'd be worried about it myself - Not that it's a bad idea but there are some things to consider.
It's common for aircraft to encounter bad weather while in flight and sometimes means being affected hit by lightning.
All it takes is for it to damage that little something and it's all over.

We've seen how finiky electronics can be under certain conditions such as what happened a few years ago with those Camry's that suddenly went from whatever to "Lets' go" mode with no way to bring it back under control. If it's computer controlled (And would be these days) that glitch someone missed and you're in it deep whether it's engine, flap landing gear or whatever - It's all vulnerable and even just software errors have causes crashes to happen before with the expected lethal results. I know those in use today are vulnerable too but at least the primary source of power isn't based on electricity alone.

I'm just saying here it's not all good or perfect - We're still years if not decades away from this becoming the dominant means of propulsion for aircraft if it happens at all.

100% of those unintended acceleration problems those Toyotas had turned out to be user error or pre-mature wear on hardware. Usually a floor mat holding the accelerator down or the pedal mechanism not returning the pedal back to 0 throttle. It had nothing to do with electronics at all. The way to bring both back to control was to either move the floor mat so it was no longer covering the throttle pedal or to jam your foot under the throttle pedal and manually pull it out.


Software errors also don't cause plane crashes. Maybe they used to, I'm not sure, but they don't any more. Aircraft, especially commercial aircraft have far more failsafes than a car. The body of the planes also act as Faraday cages so that they're safe from lightning strikes. Planes these days are almost 100% electronically controlled and there has been only 1 recorded incident of a plane crashing/being forced to land because of the electronics failing in the last 10 years and the plane involved was Russian plane designed in the 1960s and built in 1990. Not exactly peak electronic safety even at the best of times.


The two incidents of "software errors" causing the two 737 Maxs to crash both turned out to be pilot error. Both as a result of lack of training before being allowed to fly. On Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, the pilots switched off autopilot around 5 minutes before losing control resulting in the crash. Lion Air Flight 610 is a similar story. The auto trim was switched off (because of a software error) but the crash itself was caused by the pilots having no idea what to do with the auto trim being switched off. Neither airlines companies have a very good track record of safety either.
 

· D'ya like onions?
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I can't imagine a semi-truck hauling 80,000 pounds using electric motors of any variety. The batteries required to haul loads like these would be astronomically heavy and/or the ranges ridiculously short.

Except most of the energy used is getting up to speed, not holding it. Trucks use around 650-700hp to get up to speed and then around 50-100hp to hold the speed assuming it's a level road. For electric, it would be even better if most of the journey is downhill. There's a quarry that uses electric dump trucks that go up empty and down full. Because of that, the dump trucks are effectively have an efficiency of over 100%.
 

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