18 August 2021

Electric Progress


Sounds Air expects to be flying passengers across Cook Strait in electric planes by 2026. The airline announced on Wednesday it was on track to make history as the first airline in Australasia to pioneer electric air travel. And Sounds Air Group director and chairman Rhyan Wardman said the Blenheim to Wellington route was a likely first candidate for the new 19-seater planes. “It’s probably an appropriate one, because we’re a Marlborough company and our main hub is in Wellington. We’ve got fantastic support from Wellington Airport from day one around this ambition, so that’s what we’re anticipating to start with,” he said. The announcement follows a letter of intent signed last year with Heart Aerospace, a Swedish company that was looking for a “launch partner” for its ES-19 aircraft in Australasia. The deal would make Sounds Air the first airline in Australasia to offer customers zero emission air travel. Wardman confirmed the airline expected to add “at least three” of the electric planes to its fleet by 2026. But he thought their entire fleet could be electric by 2030 if battery technology allowed. “The aircraft that are anticipated to be ready by 2026 are going to have a certain range and a certain capability which will be ideal for some of the sectors that we fly. As battery technology improves ... essentially that cell density becomes better, then the range of these aircraft will extend accordingly. It is anticipated that by 2030, our entire fleet will be of this type.” There was a lot to do before 2026 though, including getting the infrastructure and charging stations into airports, Wardman said. The company embarked on a “journey” about two years ago, when they started to reassess their strategy, Wardman said. It dawned on them “quite quickly” that small, regional airlines would be some of the first to transition to zero emission travel. “It was a very simple case where if it’s going to be small regional airlines like us, then why isn’t it us,” Wardman said. He said in making the decision, the airline considered what services customers would want in the future. “The customers of the future will want to travel in a way that is sustainable and responsible. So we’re really excited about this,” he said. Heart Aerospace had run simulations on Sounds Air flights to test capability of routes. “They were monitoring all their systems. It was neat to see that. Essentially they're just building up that knowledge and capability,” Wardman said. “To be a launch customer for Australasia, we couldn’t be prouder. But we also acknowledge that now the work starts, and there’s a lot of work to do. “It’s not just a matter of bringing an electric plane to New Zealand, and starting the service.” New Zealand's aviation industry is starting to take its first steps towards electrification. Wardman said New Zealand's climate change obligations meant reinventing transport operations. “There is a need for Government to look immediately at the logistics of New Zealand’s transition to electric travel. We will be pioneering new ground here in airline regulation and compliance, but I believe New Zealand is well-placed to lead the way and get these new systems in place by 2026. “We also need to invest in up-skilling our workforce in partnership with institutions like the Massey School of Aviation and exploring offshore partnerships. As the test ground for electric travel in the South Pacific there is an opportunity for New Zealand to develop international training programmes in our international education sector. “This all involves working shoulder to shoulder with industry and government, collaborating and sharing knowledge across all aspects of building a zero-emission transport system. We have already been in talks with Wellington Airport about what infrastructure changes will be required to support our electric fleet.” Wellington Airport chief commercial officer Matt Clarke said the airport was committed to partnering with Sounds Air to deliver zero carbon scheduled air services. The Wellington to Blenheim route is an excellent candidate for new technology with a 30-minute sector length matching the capability of carbon zero aircraft,” Clarke said. “Wellington Airport is committed to assisting Sounds Air to make history.” Last month, Wardman said airports that serviced electric aircraft would need to cover the cost of chargers each worth about $500,000, plus installation. Sounds Air’s fleet consisted of six nine-seater Pilatus PC-12 and four 12-seater Cessna Caravans. It carried about 120,000 passengers a year, travelling to the likes of Wānaka, Taupō, Napier, Wellington, Nelson, Blenheim and Christchurch.

Source : https://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/green-travel/300384673/couldnt-be-prouder-sounds-air-locks-in-electric-plane-deal


  1. Just use the diesel powered GPUs that we used for the Viscounts and Friendships

  2. These two articles from a highly respected site may be of interest



  3. 2026 seems very optimistic for something that only exists as a render. Unless the power density of battery tech improves massively very quickly, this just isn't going to happen in the short or medium term.