Last Updated on: 11th October 2022, 04:47 pm
There are approximately 5,090 airports in the U.S. capable of providing commercial airline service, but only 506 of them actually do so. That’s because major airlines make money by moving large numbers of passengers in a single plane over a long distance. Higher fuel burn rates, higher maintenance costs, lower passenger volume plus landing fees and crew costs make it difficult for air carriers to operate 150- to 200-passenger jets profitably between regional airports.
Electric airplanes, on the other hand, are powered by electric motors that draw power from batteries. This means that air carriers can operate smaller, more fuel-efficient planes between regional airports. Plus, electric airplanes don’t create emissions as gasoline and diesel planes do. This means they can operate in areas that are restricted by air pollution laws.
This is good news for regional air carriers because electric airplanes are faster and more nimble than traditional planes. This means they can better serve smaller airports and airports with limited capacity. And, since electric airplanes don’t need to land and take off like traditional planes, they can use shorter runways, which makes them less challenging to operate.
Lower Fuel Costs, & Higher Comfort
Electric airplanes are the future of regional air travel. They offer cleaner runways, lower fuel costs, and higher comfort.
Electric airplanes have the potential to rewrite airline calculus. Stan Little, chairman and CEO of Southern Airways Express, a regional air carrier that primarily operates nine-passenger Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft, says that electric motors will produce significant savings in maintenance costs. And, he expects savings of 25 to 30 percent in fuel cost with hybrid-electric airplanes, and perhaps 65 to 80 percent savings with fully electric models.
Electric airplanes have the potential to revitalize regional air travel. They offer lower costs, higher comfort, and the potential for significant fuel savings. Considering the impact that electric airplanes could have on regional air travel, it’s no wonder that air carriers are already beginning to explore their potential.
Electric airplanes are set to revolutionize the way people commute and travel. The quietness of the cabin, lower carbon footprint, and satisfaction of knowing that your airplane is helping to reduce air pollution are just a few of the benefits that electric airplanes offer. Southern Airways is already working on incorporating electric airplanes into its fleet. Little hopes to be flying hybrid-electric carsavans on Southern Airways’ routes within the next three to four years, and possibly fully electric models in the five-year plus time frame.
Hybrid-electric airplanes typically use an internal combustion engine operating in parallel with a battery-powered electric motor for propulsion. Fully electric models run exclusively on battery power. Operational costs aside, Little is confident that electric airplanes will offer consumers a transformative flying experience. “The number one benefit of electric aircraft for consumers will be the quietness of the cabin,” he said. “They will also get the satisfaction of knowing that the carbon footprint they’re leaving behind is extremely low.”
Southern Airways Express subsidiary Mokulele Airlines is currently working with Los Angeles aviation startup Ampaire to flight test a six-seat Cessna 337 Skymaster retrofitted with the Ampaire’s parallel hybrid-electric propulsion system. Mokulele and Ampaire plan to flight test the aircraft in 2020 by tracing a 15-minute commercial flight route between Kahului Airport and Hana Airport on the island of Maui.
Mokulele Airlines is Southern Airways Express’ smallest subsidiary, but it’s quickly gaining a reputation for being innovative and forward-thinking. The airline is currently working with Ampaire to flight test a six-seat Cessna 337 Skymaster retrofitted with the Ampaire’s parallel hybrid-electric propulsion system.
The Ampaire system is a new kind of propulsion system that uses electric motors to power the aircraft’s propellers. The electric motors provide a clean and efficient way to power the aircraft, and they’re much more environmentally friendly than traditional engines.
Electric airplanes could be a boon to regional air travel in British Columbia, according to Greg McDougall, founder and CEO of Harbour Air Seaplanes.
McDougall and his company have been working closely with Redmond, Washington-based magniX, an electric motor producer, to retrofit and obtain FAA certification for a six-passenger DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver seaplane with an all-electric propulsion system. The first all-electric flight of the aircraft took place in December 2019.
McDougall hopes to eventually electrify Harbour Air’s entire fleet of seaplanes with magniX’s electric propulsion technology. These retrofitted electric seaplanes, with their expected range of 100 to 150 miles, would be a great fit for both the current and future needs of his airline.
As McDougall sees it, these electric airplanes could help bolster regional air travel in British Columbia, which is currently hampered by the limited range and capacity of traditional aircraft. This would not only create new jobs in the province but also open up new opportunities for tourism and trade.