The world’s first fully-electric commercial aircraft recently took a short test flight in Vancouver, Canada, flying for about 15 minutes before it touched back down on the ground.
Two companies, Harbour Air and magniX have been developing the six-passenger aircraft for the past few years, and was first unveiled at the Paris Air Show earlier this year.
The aircraft runs on an electric motor, which reportedly has a 750-horsepower (560 kW) magni500 propulsion system.
“This historic flight signifies the start of the third era in aviation – the electric age,” Harbour Air and magniX said in a statement.
The flight was piloted by Greg McDougall, founder and chief executive of Harbour Air.
McDougall said that the aircraft handled “just like flying a Beaver, but it was a Beaver on electric steroids. I actually had to back off on the power,” he said, in reference to the gas-powered, six-passenger DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver seaplane.
The companies hope that they will have a fleet of more than 40 seaplanes operating commercially by 2022.
Unfortunately, right now this technology can only take small airplanes short distances because the batteries on the market are not powerful enough for long flights or large aircraft.
MagniX chief executive Roei Ganzarski told the AFP that he expects the technology to improve as time goes on.
“The [flight] range now is not where we’d love it to be, but it’s enough to start the revolution,” Ganzarski said.
Technically, this is the first commercial electric flight because of the plans that the company has for the fleet of seaplanes. However, it is important to note that other experimental electric airplanes have taken flight in the past few years. In fact, one experimental solar airplane, called the Solar Impulse, was able to entirely circumnavigate the earth during a series of flights in 2016 and 2017. The Solar Impulse is a record holder for the longest distance traveled and the longest time in the air for a solar-powered airplane.
Experts are quickly realizing that the airline industry is a massive source of pollution. Last month, the BBC reported that aviation is set to be the biggest source of UK emissions by 2050.