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Electric Airplanes New-normal

Electric Airplanes – New-normal For Tourism?

All Souls regatta 2019 finish

Late last year we saw the first flight of a 6-passenger, all-electric seaplane – de Havilland Beaver – soon to enter service in Alaska but now we have the World’s first, 9-seat, Cessna Caravan electric airplane ready for operations in 2021.

Much has still to be written about what the new-normal for global-tourism will look like, after covid-19 subsides and recedes into the background of our travel concerns. Those observing the future-authors – activists and children worldwide – are demanding that future-tourism, and particularly air-travel, should become more environmentally friendly by reducing the excessive emissions from passenger jets. This electric airplane is one more step in the right direction.

This announcement of an electric version of a 9-seat, Cessna Caravan – an aircraft model with almost 3000 built in the 35 year period to 2019 – marks a significant milestone towards reducing emissions on domestic air-routes in ASEAN countries, especially to the more remote and intrinsically more exotic island destinations in the Philippine and Indonesia.

This should bring benefits to all involved in delivering tourists to remote destinations, insomuch as electric aircraft are not only low on emissions but they are also up to 30% less expensive to operate when compared to their fossil-fuel powered ancestors. Lower costs means that more, low-volume tourist destinations may be served, thus spreading the tourist dollar to more people within remote communities.

Pioneers in the delivery of more tourists to more remote destinations, Air Juan (and more recently AirTrav) have used the ancestral versions of the Cessna Caravan to enable high-value tourist travel, from Metro Manila, Cebu and Puerto Princesa, to remote islands destinations around the Philippines, using both airplane and seaplane versions of this versatile aircraft. With the introduction of an all-electric airplane, with a noticeably lower cost-to-operate profile, we can imagine that these services can be expanded to bring the benefits of high-value tourism to even more remote locations without increasing pollution.

The major aircraft producers (Airbus, Boeing et al) have been reported as saying that they have their own plans for larger, hybrid or fully electric airplanes but as yet these are only plans on computer screens and, with the challenges introduced by the current pandemic, most of these computer screens are probably focused on re-tooling to support healthcare equipment needs rather than furthering the electric-dream.

For the time being then, the brightest light in the World, from the perspective of reducing the emissions from tourist air-travel, looks to be shining from the smaller aircraft, delivering the financial benefits of low-volume, high-value holidaymakers to the more remotest corners of the World. DoT take note.