Norwegian revolution: the country is moving towards electric planes

Norwegian revolution: the country is moving towards electric planes

The Norwegian government promised that by 2040 all flights of local airlines of the country will be carried on the aircraft engines that run on electricity. For the global aviation industry is going to be a revolution.


This summer, in July Ketil Solveig-Olsen, Minister of transport, Norway, and Dag Falk-Petersen, CEO Avinor, companies operating airports together made a very unusual flight.

In the eyes of the journalists they squeezed into the cockpit seat of the airplane Alpha Electro G2 Pipistrel, the Slovenian built. Behind the wheel sat, Falk-Petersen.

The plane made a very short, few minutes flight over Oslo. What was he unusual?

The answer partially lies in the title of the aircraft, which is propelled solely by electricity. Thus, the aircraft batteries, our eyes went from fantasies, through drawings to production. And this is only the beginning.

The Minister and the Director of the company, Avinor did this flight is not for fun — it was stressed the seriousness of the plans of Norway in the future to radically reduce carbon emissions.

The government intends to 2040 to make all local flights operating from airports in the country, was carried out in the electric planes.

This is one of the most radical plans to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases, emissions of which a responsible world aviation.

There is only one major obstacle: electric aircraft the size of a standard airplane not yet built.

Market that can fly on electricity, now represented only by small vehicles.

For example, in the models where a pair of Norwegians flew over Oslo, barely enough room for two adults (this Solvig-Olsen and Dag Falk-Petersen said that before the flight, sat on a strict diet).

However, according to Falk-Petersen, this situation will change very soon.

Several years ago, the civil aviation authority of Norway it was very cynical regarding electric airplanes, he said.

“And then, about three years ago, our leaders had been in Toulouse visiting Airbus, says Falk-Petersen. — And Airbus told them that is already working hard in this area. So does Boeing, in cooperation with Zunum Aero and NASA. That’s why we came up with a program for the electrification flights in Norway.”

Norway is a good place for such experiments. The large surface of the country is mountainous, the coast — many Islands, and in this regard are very many fly short distances (Avinor, the company serves 46 airports).

Moving by highway, rail or by sea, usually take longer time than short flights, especially in winter, when snow and ice can interfere with movement on roads.

“We have a flight often lasts 15 to 30 minutes, says Falk-Petersen. — So we decided to develop a program, in which manufacturers of electric aircraft could in a couple of years to start competing for the right to participate in it.”

Norway would like to manufacturers suggested electrocapillary 25-30 seats to put into operation the first of them already in 2025.

“We are confident that this plane can fly on electricity,” says Falk-Petersen.

Electrocapillary already booming popularity in the past year, according to consulting firm Roland Berger, the world was developed more than 100 such projects.

Slovenian Pipistrel is one of those companies. Her representative Ty Boscarol says they are now working on models of multiple four-person vehicles, and Taurus G4 will probably be the first quadruple aircraft in the world powered exclusively by electricity.

“We have developed several alternative prototypes, for example, the four-seater hydrogen-powered. We also have a model with a hybrid engine. This engine is fully functional, and we expect that the plane will make its first flight in 2019”.

In Pipistrel say that they consider their double and quadruple devices as educational, but the company has plans to build by 2025 and larger aircraft — 19-seater aircraft with a hybrid engine.

At Pipistrel have competitors. Located in the suburbs of Seattle Zunum Aero is another company planning to begin production of aircraft that are needed Norway.

Founded in 2013, Zunum Aero received investments of this huge aircraft from Boeing and works on projects heavier elektrolizerov. Its CEO Ashish Kumar tells that the company was immediately interested in the plans of the Norwegians.

“We’ve been doing this for five years, he says. — We have studied experience of other companies and learned a lot.”

At Zunum Aero was originally a plan by 2022 to build a 12-seater aircraft for domestic flights, and by 2027 to 50-seater with a range of 1000 miles (short-haul).

And the company’s plans do not stop there. “A 100-seat airliner, capable of flying at distances up to 1,500 miles, we believe, will become a reality in the late 2020s, says Kumar. We are able to give Norway what she wants”.

Such ambitions even more interesting in light of what difficulties have to be overcome designers.

The aircraft carrying dozens of passengers and their Luggage, you need a huge amount of power for takeoff and the flight itself. Today’s Airliners are, of course, lighter and more fuel efficient than aircraft of the past, but no fuel other than current aviation fuel, does not have the intensity needed in aviation.

Of course, electricity can be stored in batteries, but until recently it was thought that they would take up so much that their weight will not allow the little plane to fly.

Kumar, however, believes that “the batteries, in a sense, is not the main problem.”

He says that the large traps lurk in the rest of the electronics. Can the battery safely and securely store the energy required for the uninterrupted operation of critical flight systems on the flight? And how to solve the problem of heat generated by all these batteries?

One option is reducing the size of the aircraft, which carry out short hops.

Currently, most of the liners and medium — haul (with a range of from 2500 to 6000 km) and long haul (more than 6000 km). “They are designed for long-haul flights, but 80% of them serves routes up to 1500 miles (2400 km),” emphasizes Kumar.

According to him, it’s time to put an end to the use of these large, heavy and expensive aircraft for a short flight. “To fly short distances to design other planes,” says Kumar.

And Zunum Aero, and in Avinor believe that the use of elektrozapalom there are other advantages, besides lower emissions into the atmosphere. For example, a small aircraft needs a shorter runway, and hence the area of the airport may be less.

These aircraft — not as noisy, which means they can be used in earlier and later times of day. And if we manage to reduce the weight of the batteries, the aircraft will be easier — therefore, they will need less energy.

This means that will decrease operating costs, allowing lower prices for tickets. For the aviation industry cheap tickets — the strongest argument (which confirms the popularity of budget airlines).

According to Kumar, the current aircraft generate a tremendous amount of energy to power all the onboard systems — for example, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner generates 1.3 megawatts, enough to power 850 homes.

“Do not try to achieve the energy intensity of aviation fuel, he said. — But you have to make sure that everything worked.”

A difficult task, he said, will increase energy production to about 5 megawatts — as may be necessary, for example, for a 100-seat electroanalyt.

According to aviation safety regulations, aircraft must have enough reserve fuel to ensure that in the event of a problem to change course and fly to an alternate airport.

According to Falk-Petersen, it is likely that the first generation of “greener” Norwegian aircraft will use hybrid engines.

It’s the same system as the popular Toyota Prius, started the move towards fully electric cars.

Battery can be charged and stored until then, until they are needed. Then use them to replace the ones that sat down. A grounded — load and use in another plane.

If the plan of Norwegians come to life, it will affect the situation beyond the borders of the country.

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Assume that all flights shorter than 90 minutes will be on electroaparataj. This means that the planes will fly to airports in neighbouring countries which also want to use these planes to remain competitive.

“Airbus is already working on an electric liner for 100 passengers, flying to a distance of 1000 km, says Falk-Petersen. They plan to introduce it into operation by 2030.”

Another serious problem is infrastructure. Norway is a rich country with good transport links, but even in such a developed state transportation of fuel difficult and expensive.

The Norwegians will have to decide whether to connect to a charging station for the new aircraft to existing power grids or use alternative energy sources.

Anyway, Norway continues to take the first steps towards the transfer of local aviation electricity.

Flight Falk-Peterson with the Minister of transport was not a one-time event. As a trained pilot, he had another demonstration of electroanalyt.

“I did the day 12 flights of 15-20 minutes each, he says. And we didn’t have time to wait for charging the battery. We started flying fully charged, and after the 20-minute flight was spent in 25% of the battery”.

“We had a plane to catch, the technician began his charge, and in the meantime we discussed how was your flight, and prepare for the next. Then returned to the plane, and he was ready to fly, fully charged. I think that we need the technology already exists, already works.”