The Wright brothers offered a kick start to a new era of transportation by developing the first machine that could fly for transportation. About 160 years later the first commercial electric aircraft took off from Vancouver, Canada built by Manigx Aviation thereby establishing a new milestone for present day Aviation.
The Manufacturing of Small Electricity run planes began in the 1970’s. The impact of fossil fuel driven transportation systems on the environment- where the important cause for turning towards the development of electric driven transport, Electric Transport systems do not have an exhaust system making it easier on environment. According to the International Aviation Organisation, it is estimated that if the current trends of usage of fossil-fuels are used, Aviation generated emissions are going to triple in Volume. The usage of these new aircrafts would also mean quitter flights and even lower cost of maintenance for Airline companies. The usage of electric flights could reduce airfares to a cetain extent. Many nations have proposed plans for increasing the production of Electric based transportation. The recent advancements in the
sector of electric transportation indicates that by 2025 about 10% of transportation systems will be run by electricity. The six seater plane Operated by Harbour Air, also known as DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver has a 750 horsepower electric propulsion system and is an e-seaplane. It had a weight of about 4 tons and a wingspan of over 50 feet making it the largest electric plane to have ever flown. The success of this first commercial electrically run seaplane indicates that it is possible to run a fleet of such aircrafts in modern Aviation.
All this electric flying technology was unveiled at the Paris Air show in the month of June, last year. Magnix and Air Harbour are now looking forward to the certification of their jet propulsion system.
The main challenge faced is to increase the passenger carrying capacity of the aircraft. Moreover, the flight lasted only for 15minutes, as it is difficult to maintain the weight of the aircraft and to adopt an onboard battery or an electric power storage system. Lithium ion batteries are heavy and have very low energy density compared to jet fuel. This major disadvantage makes these planes stick to shorter distance flights. Companies such Boeing, Rolls Royce and Uber are investing in reducing the size of the battery to make it economical.
In the year 2019, A German company name Lillium had proposed a model of a five seater jet taxi of which they expect to begin operations by 2025.
The Rolls-Royce is developing an electric jet engine which is claimed to reach a speed of 300mph. Rolls Royce expects to built an aircraft battery which could power the plane for about 200 miles with one charge.
A proposal for economically utilising batteries onboard was developed by Scientist Dr.Hu in Massachusetts Institute of Technology whose invention is a polymer ionic liquid which could be used to make batteries that could hold double the energy of Lithium ion batteries. But this proposal has not yet become practical.
Harbour Air too, now aims to develop a commercial fleet of electricity run aircrafts which could completely change the face of the Aviation sector.