The future takes off from the water in Canada

On December 10th, a fully electric plane made its first flight.

Electric seaplane

Electric seaplane / Photo: Courtesy of Harbor Air Company

LatinAmerican Post | Alberto Castaño Camacho

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Leer en español: El futuro despega desde el agua en Canadá

Just as on December 17, 1903, the brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright split the history of humanity between before and after the first airplane was flown, so on December 10th, 2019, it will go down in history as the first time that a fully electric plane was taken off.

The feat was achieved with a flight that took off from the water in the province of British Columbia in Canada. It was from the waters of the beautiful Fraser River that runs meandering through Richmond, a town that is very close to Vancouver, one of the most populous cities in the northern country.

The flight that was achieved was very short, just about three minutes and was piloted by Greg McDougall, the founder and executive director of Harbor Air, a company that aims to give light to the possibility that we stop furrowing the skies leaving a trail of gases from greenhouse effect by tons every time we move, instead, we make safe, clean and of course, much quieter trips than the traditional roars of turbines and combustion engines.

But it was not only the Canadian company that made this short but historic flight possible, the neighbors of southern Vancouver had a lot to do, as the American company, MagniX, based in Seattle, the capital of the state of Washington, on the west coast, was an ally of Harbor Air in the achievement of this historic moment.

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Roei Ganzarski, its CEO, said that this technological advance will revolutionize the way we move because it will surely be much faster, cheaper and more comfortable to arrive in a small plane in a few hours to a destination that could only be reached by driving for endless hours in a country in which the distances are titanic.

"It means you can stop driving for three, five, seven hours to reach a destination because there is no other way to get there," said the CEO of the company that exchanges hydrocarbon combustion turbines for electric power.

For his part McDougall, the brave one who tested the electric plane for the first time stressed that the irony of this plane is that it is an innovation, that it is an absolute revolution, because nobody had ever done it, but at the same time, such technology at the end, it is installed in an airplane that has been built more than 60 years ago.

This seaplane, the DHC-2 of Havilland Beaver, has actually rendered its services thousands of times flying through the snowy Canadian lands, to places where there is no access by land to millions of people who travel for the most diverse reasons, from members of indigenous communities living in towns far from any urban center, including scientists and researchers of natural life, to the famous petroleum engineers who must travel distances and places far from the geography to determine how they will build the next pipeline or where they will get more oil. The paradox is that the latter will fly in an electric plane that represents the future to seek opportunities in an industry that represents the past.

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This was a great leap in the achievement of a very clear goal that some visionaries have: increase technology to make processes more efficient and thus generate greater resources and income without destroying the natural resources that give rise to any economic activity that can be conceived.

However, the road is still long, as it will take two years of tests and surely trials and errors before this aircraft can be certified for commercial use of freight or passenger transport.

The “E-Plane” works with lithium-ion batteries, the same ones that have been used in the international space station to generate the necessary energy in space. It uses a very low weight engine that replaces the large engine that this old device must have to generate enough power to get it off the water and keep it in flight.

Definitely an impressive achievement that was brought before an audience of just 120 people and that shows that while there are those who intend to eternalize the polluting past, there are also those who dedicate their lives to the investigation of new and more friendly technologies with the only home in the universe what we have. Could it be that the transformation time reaches?