While electric cars are already an accessible reality, we cannot say the same thing as electric airplanes. The barriers to making them commercially viable are still many. There are dozens of startups and companies that are looking for electric and hybrid battery prototypes, some of which risk saying that in the next decade we can already fly without carbon dioxide.
However, putting these big flying machines in the sky requires an incredible amount of power, and today the batteries are too heavy and expensive to take off. THE energy density, which is the relationship between the amount of energy contained in a given system and the volume, is the main point, and current batteries do not contain enough energy to lift most aircraft off the ground. For example, aviation kerosene, fuel used in airplanes and helicopters, provides us with about 43 times more power than a battery of the same weight.
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Currently, most of the electric models tested do not have the appearance of current aircraft, after all they are prototypes. But to the relief of many, on December 10 we had the first flight of an all-electric seaplane that took off in British Columbia, Canada, looking like a regular seaplane.
The aircraft, operated by Harbor air and for MagniX, is a six-seater Havilland DHC-2 Beaver with a 750 horsepower (560 kW) Magni500 propulsion system. The short test flight took place on the Fraser River at the Harbor Air Seaplanes terminal in Richmond near Vancouver. Launched at the Paris Air Show earlier this year, Australian company MagniX said its propulsion system aims to provide "a clean and efficient way to power airplanes".
The flight was short, but MagniX made sure to make it bigger. In addition to comparisons to the Wright brothers, he said phrases such as "the world's first commercial electric plane" and "signifies the beginning of the third era in aviation – the age of electricity."
Looking at the benefits that electric propulsion can bring to the environment, we can say that the test flight was a big step in reducing greenhouse gases that aggravate our planet. The transportation sector alone accounts for 29% of all US emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Verge's Justine Calma recently wrote about a current trend among climate activists who shun air travel to raise emissions awareness. "Aviation currently accounts for about 2 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, and that percentage is set to grow," she wrote.
Unfortunately the seaplane used in the test could only fly about 160 km with lithium battery, which is still very little. "The range of the flight at the moment is not what we would like it to be, but it is enough to start the revolution," said MagniX chief executive Roei Ganzarski.
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