Harbour Air switching to battery powered planes

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shimmydampner
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Re: Harbour Air switching to battery powered planes

Post by shimmydampner »

Reminds me of the time several years ago when Discovery Air (Tindi) made a similarly bold PR move when they signed on to be the first heavy lift blimp operator in the north. I guess it never materialized in time to save them.
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200hr Wonder
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Re: Harbour Air switching to battery powered planes

Post by 200hr Wonder »

I laugh at all the nay sayers... we need to stick to our 100 year old piston engines damit. Probably would have said the same thing when the first turbojets showed up. Time between overhaul is too short! The internal tmerpatures are too hot! The tolerances are to tight! The fuel burn is too high! Look where we are now.

This a start and a step in the right direction. There are so many hurdles to overcome yes but this could certainly be the future for short hops, training aircraft, GA and so on in the mid term. Perhaps even airliners in the further future. Start somewhere dream big!
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jakeandelwood
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Re: Harbour Air switching to battery powered planes

Post by jakeandelwood »

I'm not naysaying, I personally think alternative fuels are the future though, but having a glitzy website and bolting a propeller to a large electric motor on a test bench is hardly an accomplishment. Large electric motors are nothing new, and producing one to propel an aircraft is the easy part, the battery issue will always be the hard part with anything driven with an electric motor and that will be an accomplishment when someone comes up with a practical battery solution that can power this motor for a reasonable amount of time at a reasonable, workable weight, weight will be the biggest obstacle obviously.
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Tail-Chaser
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Re: Harbour Air switching to battery powered planes

Post by Tail-Chaser »

TheStig wrote: Tue Mar 26, 2019 9:22 pm Disclosure: I'm a card carrying anti-tax, pro-pipeline conservative. I think this plan has merit.

As far as the how 'green' are electric vehicles? These aircraft would be charged by BC's hydro-electic dams, they are the automatically the cleanest powered aircraft ever. They are powered by precipitation, without even discussing the efficiency of the engines.

But setting aside all that, as a diehard capitalist, I have to ask, is there a business case for this? The big issue I'd have, is the the market big enough to pay for the R&D? Is the risk worth being the first mover?

From an engineering perspective this seems do-able. As a guideline, a Tesla model S has a 100KwHr battery and draws 750(ish) HP and at 'high' power settings has 2-3 hours of endurance. I don't know how much the battery weighs on that car 2500 lbs? 3000lbs? With only 9 passengers on board a single Otter has a lot of available room to add weight before hitting MTOW. The same arguement can be made for the Beaver, the motor + battery weight can far exceed the current engine + fuel weight because the existing airframes were designed to carry SO MUCH more than these flight profiles require.

Charging stations could be installed to add more than enough charge to keep these aircraft flying during the morning and afternoon rush periods. I assume all of these potential obstacles have been assessed as not inhibiting. What if for the cost of a PT-6 you could install a battery pack that drops the operating cost of an Otter from 60 gallons per hour to $20 of electricity? The potential is a leap, whereby you either have this aircraft or you go out of business.
The 85kwh battery weighs 1200 lbs. The 100kwh battery is about 1500lbs.
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goingnowherefast
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Re: Harbour Air switching to battery powered planes

Post by goingnowherefast »

Lets do some simple math. Beaver uses 260hp in cruise? (approx 28-1800), that's close to 195kw. Now for 1.5 hour endurance (1 hour plus 30 minute "reserve"), that's very close to 300kwh. I know I'm rounding up, but there's gotta be some extra power available for take-off and climb. According to the above post, that's a 4500lb battery pack. I even looked up energy densities on Wikipedia, and it support the claim. Remove 1000lbs of engine, engine accessories and fuel, that's still a 3500 lb increase. Just because I'm dumb and they're smart, lets give a 1000 lb head start and it's still a 2500lb increase. Oh, and I've forgotten the weight of the electric motor and propeller.

Been a while since I was around Beavers, but I think we're already above max take-off weight.
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Rowdy
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Re: Harbour Air switching to battery powered planes

Post by Rowdy »

How long does a charge take? Make it pretty difficult to turn a beaver or otter around in that time frame...
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TWSC
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Re: Harbour Air switching to battery powered planes

Post by TWSC »

Rowdy wrote: Thu Mar 28, 2019 5:33 pm How long does a charge take? Make it pretty difficult to turn a beaver or otter around in that time frame...
Some people have been suggesting switching the batteries out to make a quick turnaround but I can't imagine that being an easy thing to do quickly when the batteries will prob weigh upwards of 1500lbs. Seems unfeasible to me but that's just my 2cents
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C-GGGQ
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Re: Harbour Air switching to battery powered planes

Post by C-GGGQ »

China has a company that does it like an oil change you drive in over the pit and a specialized lift pulls the battery out and outs in a new one. It's a3000lb battery just for a small car. I don't see how you'd have the ability to do that swap dockside. Maybe if it was terrestrial and you could roll up a new battery truck like the catering vehicle, but for float planes... I think you'd have to charge.
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digits_
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Re: Harbour Air switching to battery powered planes

Post by digits_ »

C-GGGQ wrote: Thu Mar 28, 2019 6:13 pm China has a company that does it like an oil change you drive in over the pit and a specialized lift pulls the battery out and outs in a new one. It's a3000lb battery just for a small car. I don't see how you'd have the ability to do that swap dockside. Maybe if it was terrestrial and you could roll up a new battery truck like the catering vehicle, but for float planes... I think you'd have to charge.
What if you pump in/out the acid somehow? Might as well use a hydrogen solution at that point, but who knows...
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enbt
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Re: Harbour Air switching to battery powered planes

Post by enbt »

There were some interviews about this on local radio with the CEO of Harbour Air and the CEO of MagniX. They said that for every hour of flying it will take 45 minutes to recharge. The Beaver will have about an hour and a half worth of endurance, so enough to do a Vancouver - Victoria round trip. TBO on the engine they claim will be 10,000 hours, so they figure operating costs will be lower in the long run. Greg MacDougall says he is personally going to do the test flying for this. I can't remember what they said about weight of the engines/batteries, but they will be installed under the floor where the fuel tanks currently are so the W+B shouldn't change much. Up till now MagniX has done about 1500 hours of ground run testing with these engines, no flying.

It sure sounds like an ambitious plan. It is making for some good PR this week anyway. It will be interesting to see how it works out in the real world and what sort of issues they run into. There will almost certainly be some teething issues to work through but it is a starting point. I wish them well with this. I had no idea battery technology was anywhere near the level of power, endurance and reliability to power a plane. I thought planes would pretty much always be running on fossil fuel.
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DadoBlade
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Re: Harbour Air switching to battery powered planes

Post by DadoBlade »

Canada's global contribution to green-house gases is around 1.6%. So why not just convert the radial engine Beavers to turbo-props? Most of the PT6A conversion would be Canadian sourced, perhaps done by Viking Air, unlike the U.S.A. based electrical powered solution.
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jakeandelwood
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Re: Harbour Air switching to battery powered planes

Post by jakeandelwood »

The engine may have a 10'000 hour tbo but I highly doubt the battery will last a fraction of that especially if it's getting recharged multiple times a day. The aircrafts range will slowly shorten as the battery's ability to hold a charge degrades. I don't know why alcohol isn't being explored as an alternate fuel for gasoline piston engines, I guess cost, it's been used in race cars for years.
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ahramin
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Re: Harbour Air switching to battery powered planes

Post by ahramin »

I think you guys are all being silly, it's pretty obvious Mr. MacDougall knows about these issues and is planning on investing in the new really long extension cord technology.
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jakeandelwood
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Re: Harbour Air switching to battery powered planes

Post by jakeandelwood »

https://www.hotrod.com/articles/ctrp-12 ... asics/amp/
I think we'll see small planes running off alcohol before batteries in my opinion, but the extension cord idea has some merrit!
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co-joe
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Re: Harbour Air switching to battery powered planes

Post by co-joe »

Wait till you want to apply for a job there, and they ask how much electric time on floats you have. Oh we need 500 hours for our insurance...
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TWSC
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Re: Harbour Air switching to battery powered planes

Post by TWSC »

I can just imagine the number of disgruntled dockhands there’ll be if they say the batteries will be swapped out at the dock. All fun and games till someone biffs it and there’s a battery at the bottom of the harbour lol
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digits_
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Re: Harbour Air switching to battery powered planes

Post by digits_ »

ahramin wrote: Thu Mar 28, 2019 9:29 pm I think you guys are all being silly, it's pretty obvious Mr. MacDougall knows about these issues and is planning on investing in the new really long extension cord technology.
Especially the wireless ones would be very useful here
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jakeandelwood
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Re: Harbour Air switching to battery powered planes

Post by jakeandelwood »

TWSC wrote: Thu Mar 28, 2019 10:25 pm I can just imagine the number of disgruntled dockhands there’ll be if they say the batteries will be swapped out at the dock. All fun and games till someone biffs it and there’s a battery at the bottom of the harbour lol
....along with the dockhand that got the cord mistakenly wrapped around his leg
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Re: Harbour Air switching to battery powered planes

Post by ragbagflyer »

This is smart marketing as it helps Harbour Air lock down the eco-consious consumer on the coast, of which there are many. It's going to be a long time before this airline is completely electric but it seems conceivable that they can play around with some prototypes in the near term.

Vancouver - Victoria is likely the last route they'll be flying electric seaplanes on. It's just over 60 miles direct although the frequent routing can result in closer to 80 miles being flown.

Victoria - Richmond gets you down to the 55-65 mile range.

Nanaimo - Vancouver: 40 miles

Nanaimo - Richmond: 35 miles

Nanaimo - Sechelt: 25 miles (without nearly an many people watching unfortunately)

Scenic Flights out of downtown Vancouver: Could be as low as 15 miles

Some VERY rough math below

The current 100 kW.h tesla battery weighs 1200 pounds. 100 kW.h is 133 hp.h. Lets assume 90 percent efficiency of the electric motor and now we have 120 hp.h that can be delivered or to put it another way 240 hp for half an hour. A beaver will fly on 240 hp. The original manual says 1650 RPM at 29.2 inches is 240 hp. That's a bit lower than typical cruise power settings but it's safe to say an optimally designed composite prop on the front of a pointy nose will pull you along on fewer hp than a chunky two blade on the front of a radial.

I've been told that with the once you account for all the extras there's about 900 pounds forward of the engine mount on a beaver (correct me if I'm wrong), plus a heavy lead acid battery. The specs on this magnis motor put it at an estimated 265 pounds. Throw a composite prop on and some cowls and lets call it 400 pounds. If you have a net reduction of 500 pounds the empty beaver on floats is now 3000 pounds. Add in the pilot and a 1200 pound battery pack and a 200 pound pilot and you're up to 4400. Lets call it a gross weight of 5370 (actual range of gross weights is 5090-5600), and now we have about 1000 pounds we can pull around for 30 minutes (not including taxi and takeoff). So there's some serious limitations at current battery storage levels but you could conceivably get the machine airborne with today's technology and we're trending in the right direction with regards to battery storage.

I think the first passenger carrying flights will be scenic tours, with an TC granting an exemption to the 30 minute reserve rule. Say a 15 minute scenic flight with 15 minutes of reserve. That seems reasonable; if you're five minutes from your take off area, and over water the whole time why would you need 30 minutes of reserve. People would line up around the block for these tours.

It won't be any time soon that Harbour Air's fleet is fully electric but they have the means and desire to experiment in this field so good for them!
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jakeandelwood
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Re: Harbour Air switching to battery powered planes

Post by jakeandelwood »

30 minutes not including taxi and take off? So that turns into 20 mins at best then half that when the pilot turns on the cabin heat, however that's going to work.
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