The world’s ‘largest all electric commercial aircraft’ completes its first flight

Energy

The planet’s “largest all electric commercial aircraft” has completed its maiden flight, the latest example of a zero-emission form of transport taking to the skies.

The Cessna 208B Grand Caravan took off from an airport in Moses Lake, Washington, on Thursday and used a 750-horsepower all-electric motor developed by a Redmond-headquartered company called magniX. Work to convert the aircraft was undertaken by magniX and another firm called AeroTEC. 

“The iconic Caravan has been a workhorse of industry moving people and transporting goods on short routes for decades,” Roei Ganzarski, the CEO of magniX, said in a statement on Thursday.

“This first flight of the eCaravan is yet another step on the road to operating these middle-mile aircraft at a fraction of the cost, with zero emissions, from and to smaller airports,” Ganzarski added.

“These electric commercial aircraft will enable the offering of flying services of people and packages in a way previously not possible.”

Thursday’s flight represents another step forward for electric aircraft, albeit a small one. In December 2019, the world’s first fully-electric aircraft for commercial flight completed a test in Canada. The DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver seaplane used in that flight was also fitted with a motor from magniX.

According to the International Council on Clean Transportation, “commercial aviation accounts for about 2% of global carbon emissions.” For the transportation sector as a whole, its responsible for around 12% of all carbon dioxide emissions.

In a bid to reduce the environmental impact of aviation, some airlines, such as KLM, have used bio-fuels to power their planes. The last few years have also seen a number of innovative aircraft complete journeys. 

In 2016, the Solar Impulse 2, a manned aircraft powered by the sun, managed to circumnavigate the globe without using fuel. The trip was completed in 17 separate legs.

In 2018, an unmanned solar-powered aircraft from European aerospace giant Airbus completed a maiden flight lasting 25 days, 23 hours, and 57 minutes.

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