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First full electric airline service

Posted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 4:42 pm
by Dutchy
GLASGOW - The Scottish Loganair wants to be the first airline in the world to offer fully electric scheduled flights. The route between the islets Westray and Papa Westray is the main candidate to take credit.

Together with the University of Cranfield, which is well-known for its aviation faculty, it is being investigated whether Loganair's Britten-Norman BN-2 Islanders fleet can be equipped with electrically powered motors.

"Our Islanders offer an excellent platform for this technology," Loganair CEO Jonathan Hinkles said in an interview with The Economist.

The aircraft are used to fly, among other things, between the Orkney Islands. The route between Westray and Papa Westray is also included. At the moment this is even the shortest official scheduled service in the world, with a flight time of around two minutes.

Around 2023, the dream of flying electrically between the islands should come true.


Article in Dutch

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Good luck to them to make that happen. Baby steps, but this is very promising and likely to happen. To get to a clean airline industry.

Re: First full electric airline service

Posted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 5:21 pm
by PerVG
Well, not the biggest challenge ever, is it? :mrgreen:

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Re: First full electric airline service

Posted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 6:31 pm
by frmrCapCadet
I suspect no protected bays for a short boat trip. (?) If not it looks pretty logical for electric.

Re: First full electric airline service

Posted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 7:48 pm
by kjeld0d
PerVG wrote:
Well, not the biggest challenge ever, is it? :mrgreen:


That all depends on if there are any upwind legs!

Edit: I'll stick to my A3<<<<<

Re: First full electric airline service

Posted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 8:30 pm
by Leslieville
Sounds like we have ourselves a race for the title of first scheduled fully electric airline service. Harbour Air from Vancouver threw down the gauntlet earlier this year: https://www.harbourair.com/harbour-air- ... c-airline/

Re: First full electric airline service

Posted: Thu Aug 08, 2019 2:39 am
by Gulfstream500
Leslieville wrote:
Sounds like we have ourselves a race for the title of first scheduled fully electric airline service. Harbour Air from Vancouver threw down the gauntlet earlier this year: https://www.harbourair.com/harbour-air- ... c-airline/


Have we suddenly forgotten about Cape Air’s order for several electric aircraft?

Re: First full electric airline service

Posted: Thu Aug 08, 2019 7:40 am
by Pagophilus
Westray to Papa Westray is about as far as it is practical to operate an electric airliner. Anything much longer and the weight of batteries will make it prohibitive.

Re: First full electric airline service

Posted: Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:02 am
by FredrikHAD
Pagophilus wrote:
Westray to Papa Westray is about as far as it is practical to operate an electric airliner. Anything much longer and the weight of batteries will make it prohibitive.

Electric doesn’t equal batteries. Methanol, ethanol, hydrogen or any other suitable fuel can be fed into fuel cells producing electricity without the need for any batteries. Using electric car technology used in commercially available cars an ATR 72 can be converted to electric drive using this concept. Methanol in the tanks, fuel cells to produce electricity and replacing the PW127Ms with Tesla motors (and motor controls) is all it takes... and some minor certification hassle. It is viable technically, but obviously lots of tests and certification would be needed. I’m just annoyed that every time electric flying is mentioned, it automatically shifts into a battery debate - it doesn’t have to be that way.

Do we know if these BN-2s are supposed to be battery driven?

/Fredrik

Re: First full electric airline service

Posted: Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:28 pm
by WayexTDI
FredrikHAD wrote:
Pagophilus wrote:
Westray to Papa Westray is about as far as it is practical to operate an electric airliner. Anything much longer and the weight of batteries will make it prohibitive.

Electric doesn’t equal batteries. Methanol, ethanol, hydrogen or any other suitable fuel can be fed into fuel cells producing electricity without the need for any batteries. Using electric car technology used in commercially available cars an ATR 72 can be converted to electric drive using this concept. Methanol in the tanks, fuel cells to produce electricity and replacing the PW127Ms with Tesla motors (and motor controls) is all it takes... and some minor certification hassle. It is viable technically, but obviously lots of tests and certification would be needed. I’m just annoyed that every time electric flying is mentioned, it automatically shifts into a battery debate - it doesn’t have to be that way.

Do we know if these BN-2s are supposed to be battery driven?

/Fredrik

That's because, right now, the only "real" commercially available electric vehicles are battery-driven.
The Fuel Cell vehicles sold right now (Toyota Mirai and Honda Clarity) are extremely low production models and not even available everywhere (for example, the Honda Clarity is only available in all 50 US States as the plug-in hybrid, whereas the full Fuel Cell is only available in some select Californian markets).
On the other hand, Teslas or Nissan Leafs are widely available; and they are battery-driven.

Re: First full electric airline service

Posted: Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:57 pm
by peterinlisbon
They will have to offer low prices on this route because otherwise they will get beaten on speed, price and frequency by an old man in a rowing boat.

Re: First full electric airline service

Posted: Thu Aug 08, 2019 1:40 pm
by smithbs
FredrikHAD wrote:
Pagophilus wrote:
Westray to Papa Westray is about as far as it is practical to operate an electric airliner. Anything much longer and the weight of batteries will make it prohibitive.

Electric doesn’t equal batteries. Methanol, ethanol, hydrogen or any other suitable fuel can be fed into fuel cells producing electricity without the need for any batteries. Using electric car technology used in commercially available cars an ATR 72 can be converted to electric drive using this concept. Methanol in the tanks, fuel cells to produce electricity and replacing the PW127Ms with Tesla motors (and motor controls) is all it takes... and some minor certification hassle. It is viable technically, but obviously lots of tests and certification would be needed. I’m just annoyed that every time electric flying is mentioned, it automatically shifts into a battery debate - it doesn’t have to be that way.

Do we know if these BN-2s are supposed to be battery driven?

/Fredrik


You have a point, but the technology still has a ways to go. As mentioned by another poster, the automotive electric revolution is still largely stuck in the battery phase and hasn't made a large movement to fuel cells...yet. Also, you mention sticking some Tesla motors in an ATR 72 - does that mean Tesla has some motors capable of 2500 shp? That would be an awesome Tesla! But sure, finding a motor capable of 1865 kW isn't the hard part - finding a fuel cell to deliver that at a constant rate and with airliner-level reliability is the rub.

Re: First full electric airline service

Posted: Thu Aug 08, 2019 2:17 pm
by WayexTDI
peterinlisbon wrote:
They will have to offer low prices on this route because otherwise they will get beaten on speed, price and frequency by an old man in a rowing boat.

The electric planes will fly at the same speed at their fossil fuel-burning counterparts...
Have you ever driven next to the current electric cars? If you had, you'd realize your comment is false.

Re: First full electric airline service

Posted: Thu Aug 08, 2019 2:18 pm
by Channex757
Orkney produces considerably more renewable electricity than it consumes. The constant action of wind and tides means the island exports power. It's an ideal location to pioneer electric aircraft and island hopper services.

Re: First full electric airline service

Posted: Thu Aug 08, 2019 6:14 pm
by peterinlisbon
WayexTDI wrote:
peterinlisbon wrote:
They will have to offer low prices on this route because otherwise they will get beaten on speed, price and frequency by an old man in a rowing boat.

The electric planes will fly at the same speed at their fossil fuel-burning counterparts...
Have you ever driven next to the current electric cars? If you had, you'd realize your comment is false.


I've driven the BMW i3, the Nissan Leaf, the Renault Zoe, Volkswagen e-Golf, Kia Soul and a few others. But I still think a rowing boat is probably faster over that distance, regardless of the aircraft's fuel source.

Re: First full electric airline service

Posted: Thu Aug 08, 2019 6:26 pm
by WayexTDI
peterinlisbon wrote:
WayexTDI wrote:
peterinlisbon wrote:
They will have to offer low prices on this route because otherwise they will get beaten on speed, price and frequency by an old man in a rowing boat.

The electric planes will fly at the same speed at their fossil fuel-burning counterparts...
Have you ever driven next to the current electric cars? If you had, you'd realize your comment is false.


I've driven the BMW i3, the Nissan Leaf, the Renault Zoe, Volkswagen e-Golf, Kia Soul and a few others. But I still think a rowing boat is probably faster over that distance, regardless of the aircraft's fuel source.

So, it has nothing to do with this service switching to electric aircraft...

If I remember well, this is just one leg of a complete trip to bring kids to school every day.

Re: First full electric airline service

Posted: Thu Aug 08, 2019 6:59 pm
by drdisque
smithbs wrote:
FredrikHAD wrote:
Pagophilus wrote:
Westray to Papa Westray is about as far as it is practical to operate an electric airliner. Anything much longer and the weight of batteries will make it prohibitive.

Electric doesn’t equal batteries. Methanol, ethanol, hydrogen or any other suitable fuel can be fed into fuel cells producing electricity without the need for any batteries. Using electric car technology used in commercially available cars an ATR 72 can be converted to electric drive using this concept. Methanol in the tanks, fuel cells to produce electricity and replacing the PW127Ms with Tesla motors (and motor controls) is all it takes... and some minor certification hassle. It is viable technically, but obviously lots of tests and certification would be needed. I’m just annoyed that every time electric flying is mentioned, it automatically shifts into a battery debate - it doesn’t have to be that way.

Do we know if these BN-2s are supposed to be battery driven?

/Fredrik


You have a point, but the technology still has a ways to go. As mentioned by another poster, the automotive electric revolution is still largely stuck in the battery phase and hasn't made a large movement to fuel cells...yet. Also, you mention sticking some Tesla motors in an ATR 72 - does that mean Tesla has some motors capable of 2500 shp? That would be an awesome Tesla! But sure, finding a motor capable of 1865 kW isn't the hard part - finding a fuel cell to deliver that at a constant rate and with airliner-level reliability is the rub.


Yeah, the technology isn't there for an ATR.

However, a base Islander's engines only produce about 300 hp each.

Yes, you'll have to add battery weight but the electric motors should weigh less than the piston engines.

I think that all the technology is there to build an Electric Islander that flies like an Islander that has the range for 15-30 minute flights.

Re: First full electric airline service

Posted: Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:30 pm
by FredrikHAD
smithbs wrote:
FredrikHAD wrote:
Pagophilus wrote:
Westray to Papa Westray is about as far as it is practical to operate an electric airliner. Anything much longer and the weight of batteries will make it prohibitive.

Electric doesn’t equal batteries. Methanol, ethanol, hydrogen or any other suitable fuel can be fed into fuel cells producing electricity without the need for any batteries. Using electric car technology used in commercially available cars an ATR 72 can be converted to electric drive using this concept. Methanol in the tanks, fuel cells to produce electricity and replacing the PW127Ms with Tesla motors (and motor controls) is all it takes... and some minor certification hassle. It is viable technically, but obviously lots of tests and certification would be needed. I’m just annoyed that every time electric flying is mentioned, it automatically shifts into a battery debate - it doesn’t have to be that way.

Do we know if these BN-2s are supposed to be battery driven?

/Fredrik


You have a point, but the technology still has a ways to go. As mentioned by another poster, the automotive electric revolution is still largely stuck in the battery phase and hasn't made a large movement to fuel cells...yet. Also, you mention sticking some Tesla motors in an ATR 72 - does that mean Tesla has some motors capable of 2500 shp? That would be an awesome Tesla! But sure, finding a motor capable of 1865 kW isn't the hard part - finding a fuel cell to deliver that at a constant rate and with airliner-level reliability is the rub.

Technonogy is there, it’s mostly a matter of using it in an aviation context that is missing. Certification is a big issue, as it should when new technology is introduced in the airline industry. The beauty of electric motors is that they are scalable, but for a trial, using them in parallell is also possible. One could just lengthen the prop shaft and mount the Tesla motors after each other along the shaft. They’d probably fit nicely within the nacelles. Obviously one would need tailor made motors and fuel cells for a certifiable and economical product, but it would be possible to convert an ATR today to prove the concept.

Re: First full electric airline service

Posted: Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:57 pm
by NiMar
I'd love to see electric sea plane service in the Puget Sound. Flights from Olympia to Seattle and Bellevue bypassing the horrendous I-5 traffic... Would be nice if you could have commuter prices on it somehow.

Re: First full electric airline service

Posted: Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:09 pm
by TMccrury
So, my question is this, If they fly the BN-2 over and it pretty much depletes the batteries, how long will it take to recharge them for the return flight? That is of course assuming they use batteries and not hydrogen or something of the sort. That alone could make for some longer turns.

Re: First full electric airline service

Posted: Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:40 pm
by ethernal
smithbs wrote:
You have a point, but the technology still has a ways to go. As mentioned by another poster, the automotive electric revolution is still largely stuck in the battery phase and hasn't made a large movement to fuel cells...yet. Also, you mention sticking some Tesla motors in an ATR 72 - does that mean Tesla has some motors capable of 2500 shp? That would be an awesome Tesla! But sure, finding a motor capable of 1865 kW isn't the hard part - finding a fuel cell to deliver that at a constant rate and with airliner-level reliability is the rub.


Agree that fuel cells may have a future in airplanes at some point, but you will never find them in cars at scale - so I'm not sure why you say "yet". Batteries are a far superior tech over fuel cells for regular car use.

For cars, fuel cells only had a small window before chemical battery tech got to where it is from a performance and cost perspective. Unsurprisingly, the general inefficiency of molecular hydrogen production, the challenge of creating a whole distribution infrastructure, the safety issues inherent with molecular hydrogen, the cost of fuel cells themselves, plus the general engineering challenges associated with containing molecular hydrogen in a vehicle in both a safe and cost effective manner mean they will never take over the automotive market.

Airplanes - where the energy density to weight is absolutely paramount and the cost to make fuel cells and large reinforced carbon fiber tanks is trivial compared to the general cost of planes - are one of the few logical places to use fuel cells over chemical batteries (while H2 takes up more space and tanks would be a bit heavier, the energy density is 3x that of gasoline and you can turn more of that into useful energy.. it makes ULH economics much better). The other place you may see them is in large ships, although that would likely be driven by environmental regulation as dead algae will remain the most cost effective solution there for any forseeable future.

Re: First full electric airline service

Posted: Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:45 pm
by frmrCapCadet
Fuel cells using ethanol hold real promise - energy density being a primary one.

Re: First full electric airline service

Posted: Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:50 pm
by ethernal
frmrCapCadet wrote:
Fuel cells using ethanol hold real promise - energy density being a primary one.


An H2 fuel cell airplane could be made today if there was a desire to do it. Any use of ethanol in any kind of high-power application will require multiple breakthroughs in multiple fields (the biggest of course being around finding completely new catalysts that would likely require new physics). So yes, hypothetically it has "promise", but only in theory.

Even if magic happened with multiple breakthroughs, any large plane would likely still use H2 as its feedstock given its massive specific energy advantage over any other alternative. By the very nature of physics, literally no molecule can have a higher chemical specific energy than H2.

Re: First full electric airline service

Posted: Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:36 pm
by frmrCapCadet
technology is more advanced on this than many think. An advantage of ethanol is likely that it is possible to have a fairly chemically pure form of this which reduces likelihood of any chemical poisoning of catalysts. And ethanol is a liquid at typical room temperatures and pressures which gives it an obviously far greater density than hydrogen gas.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct-ethanol_fuel_cell

Re: First full electric airline service

Posted: Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:52 pm
by beechnut
drdisque wrote:

Yes, you'll have to add battery weight but the electric motors should weigh less than the piston engines.



Not to forget that the BN-2 has 1440 lbs fuel capacity. Tesla Model 3 batteries, from what I can see, weigh around 1000 lbs. Model S battery weighs 1200 lbs. Horsepower is comparable to two BN-2 300 hp engines. The Tesla I think can do around 250 miles at 60 or so mph. A BN-2 at say 120 mph... who knows, certainly not 250 miles but then it's a very short hop.

And the electric motors will weigh less probably. So A Tesla Model S battery would weigh less than full fuel. Quick back of napkin calculation shows that assuming equal engine weight, the payload with Model S batteries would be 1725 lbs, or around 8-9 pax. In other words, it could nearly fill all its seats with minimum cargo/baggage.

Given the short distance, it doesn't seem outrageous if the thing can get certified.

Beech

Re: First full electric airline service

Posted: Fri Aug 09, 2019 1:55 pm
by ethernal
frmrCapCadet wrote:
technology is more advanced on this than many think. An advantage of ethanol is likely that it is possible to have a fairly chemically pure form of this which reduces likelihood of any chemical poisoning of catalysts. And ethanol is a liquid at typical room temperatures and pressures which gives it an obviously far greater density than hydrogen gas.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct-ethanol_fuel_cell


What does "more advanced" than many think mean?

Yes, there are proof of concepts of relatively low energy ethanol-based fuel cells using some novel catalysts. But there are incredible barriers to commercializing ethanol fuel cells for any high power application - even something like automotive, much less aviation which has far greater energy requirements with more weight and reliability considerations.

Even if I could magically find an ethanol catalyst that operates 10x-25x faster (meaning my fuel cell wouldn't be the size of the plane itself in order to generate enough power to fly), why the heck would I ever want to use ethanol on a plane? Despite the engineering challenges, H2 makes sense because it is LIGHT - it has 3x the specific energy of jet fuel (although it does take up more space, and some of that benefit would be lost with heavier fuel tanks to contain liquid H2). Ethanol.. why would I use ethanol? It has less specific energy than existing jet fuel! Even accounting for the theoretically higher useful recovery amounts via a fuel cell, you're still losing versus just using good old jet fuel.

If it's just for renewability, then just make jet fuel from renewable feedstocks (the same way ethanol is made, but just a little bit more work) - there, I saved everyone a bunch of non-value add engineering work.