The Anonymous Widower

Watch First Electric Caravan Fly

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on AOPA.

As AOPA is the Aircraft Owners And Pilots Association, the caravan is a Cessna C208B Grand Caravan, which has been converted to electric power.

I have flown in a Cessna Caravan in Kenya, where it took me from Nairobi Airport to the Maasai Mara.

It is a typical workhorse all over the world carrying up to nine or thirteen passengers or freight.

  • They have a single turboprop engine.
  • The undercarriage is fixed and very sturdy.
  • Around 2,600 had been built by 2017.
  • It is used by a variety of operators.

I would certainly be happy to fly in one at any time, unlike some aircraft I could mention.

This paragraph from the article details how the maker of the electric motor;magniX is involved in electric flight.

The Grand Caravan is to be the largest, but not the first commercial aircraft magniX has converted to fly with 100 percent electric power. Roei Ganzarski, CEO of magniX, wrote in an email exchange that the de Havilland DHC–2 Beaver first flown in December continues its test flight program in Canada. Harbour Air, a short-haul air carrier with a fleet of seaplanes, is working with magniX to convert its fleet to all-electric power, and the same 750-hp electric motor that will power the upcoming Grand Caravan flight has been performing well in test flights over British Columbia.

Ganzarski is quoted as saying he is pleased with results to date.

The aircraft is lined up to make its first flight on May 28th, which hopefully will be shown on the Internet.

My flight in Kenya was only about half-an-hour and despite the Caravan having a range of nearly 2,000 kilometres, I suspect that many flights in the aircraft are of similar duration.

A Quick Battery Size Estimate

  • 750 hp is 560 kW.
  • So a half-hour flight on full power will use 280 kWh plus whatever is needed for aircraft systems like avionics, heating and air conditioning.
  • The Eviation Alice electric aircraft seats nine passengers and has a 900 kWh battery according to Wikipedia.

I  would suspect a 900 kWh battery should allow the Electric Caravan to do two half-hour trips.

The Future Of Electric Aviation

It is interesting to note, that four of the projects in designing and building a viable electric aircraft are in this nine-seater segment.

Note.

  • All except Eviation Alice, are conversions of proven high-wing aircraft with a fixed undercarriage.
  • Moderately large fleets available for conversion. – Beaver (1,600 plus built), Caravan (2,600) and Islander (700)
  • Conversion only needs a Supplemental Type Certificate, rather than full certification.
  • The DHC-2 Beaver prototype first flew on the day I was born, so it can’t be all bad.

A detailed insight into the reasons and the economics of converting an existing fleet of aircraft are given in a sub-section called Development in the Wikipedia entry for Project Fresson.

  • Scottish Airline Loganair appears to be the launch airline and will use the plane for their short flights around the Orkneys.
  • Several companies are involved in the development.
  • First flight is aimed for 2021.
  • Conversion kits could be available in 2022-2023.
  • It is hoped that operators would get a return on their money for the kit in 2-3 years.

Once they get the design right, there is talk of a nineteen-seat electric airliner.

I can see hundreds of converted electric Caravans and Islanders flying short routes by 2030.

 

May 21, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Could The Scilly Isles Have An Electric Air Service?

St. Mary’s Airport on the main island of the same name in the Scilly Isles used to be considered a good test of airmanship.

When, I flew my Cessna 340A into the airport in the early 1990s, the runway was very hump-backed and it was a case of coming in slow, landing, cutting power and slamming on the brakes, so you didn’t run away downhill.

I remember having a telephone briefing before, I took off for the Airport and landed safely.

But there was a wrecked plane after the end of the runway.

Returning from the Airport was tricky. Maximum power was applied and you, accelerated up the hill on full power and along a short piece of flat runway on the hump. Eventually, I lifted the plane over the end of the runway and over the adjacent cliff. I maintained level, but once clear I deliberately lost altitude and this added the safety of flying speed. I then flew on at about two hundred feet or so above the sea, before turning to the East for home.

According to Wikipedia, a new runway was built in 1991, so hopefully aircraft like Islanders and Twin Otters can get into the islands with increased ease and safety.

The Future Air Service To The Scillies

Last night there was a discussion on Radio 5 about Flybe and other flights in the South West of England.

A text message to the program, said that the helicopter service to the islands was to be increased and it would be the sole way to get by air to the islands

Wikipedia says that the current air service run by Isles of Scilly Skybus, will be only flying nineteen-seater turboprop Twin Otters after March 2014..

Project Fresson

Project Fresson is a project to create an electric version of the Britten-Norman Islander by Cranfield University, with backing from the manufacturer, Rolls-Royce and some specialist suppliers.

  • The power could be electric or hybrid electric.
  • Rolls-Royce seem to be aiming for a low or zero-carbon power plant for a nineteen-seater airliner.
  • First flight is planned for 2022.
  • Sixty minute endurance with a thirty minute reserve is planned.
  • The aim is to design a kit that can be retrofitted to the up to seven hundred Islanders all over the world.

This could be an interesting project to watch, as Loganair needs an aircraft like this for its Scottish island services.

Conclusion

I very much feel that by 2030, one way or another, the airport on St. Mary’s will be hosting an electric passenger service.

January 17, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 2 Comments