Water and electricity do mix. So says Vancouver-based seaplane operator Harbour Air’s CEO Greg McDougall

The company, which is the world’s largest seaplane-only airline, will convert its entire 41-strong fleet of DHC Beavers, Otters and Twin Otters and one Cessna Caravan to electric power.

Harbour Air carries some half-million passengers annually on routes to the west coast of British Columbia, Vancouver Island and to Seattle, and is collaborating with Washington State-based magniX, which will provide its 750hp electric motor.

Most Harbour Air routes take thirty minutes or less, and although the motor currently has an endurance of only about an hour per charge, “that’s changing very rapidly with the development of the battery technology,” says McDougall.

“The internal combustion engine is all but obsolete, really, for future development. It’s all about electric.”

He hopes to fly a prototype ‘Electric Beaver’ by November and then seek certification for passenger carrying. “What we’re doing here is retrofitting new technology to older technology,” he says.

“The cost is very similar to us putting a turbine engine on the aircraft, but the big win is that the electric motor doesn’t have to be rebuilt every 2,500-3,000 hours, has got very few moving parts and doesn’t consume fossil fuel.”

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