Norway’s short-haul flights to switch to electricity

An aircraft © Muggost
© Muggost

Avinor, the public operator of Norway’s airports, has announced plans to make all short-haul flights electric by 2040.

Norway already has more electric and hybrid vehicles on the road than any other country in the world. More than half of new cars registered were electric or hybrid in 2017, and there are also plans for electric shipping vessels. Now, Avinor aims to be the first operator in the world to transition to electric air transport all for short-haul flights. The change would impact 25 airports across Norway’s short-haul routes.

Are electric short-haul flights possible?

The company’s chief executive, Dag Falk-Petersen, told AFP: “We think that all flights lasting up to 1.5 hours can be flown by aircraft that are entirely electric.”

Avinor has already set up a development project for hybrid electric aircraft, and will launch a tender offer to test an electric aircraft with 19 seats on a commercial route, beginning in 2025.

While the time frame of the announcement seems ambitious, Jan Otto Reimers, a special advisor to Avinor, told Norway Today that with sufficient effort it could be achieved. “If testing is underway, we’ll see the electric aircraft already by 2025. If the aircraft are to be used commercially, we’re talking about 2030. But to get it done, planning and development are required.”

Initially, the aircraft will be hybrids which will use electric-powered motors for take-off and landing, while using standard jet fuel for cruising at altitude, as this will prove the least energy intensive procedure for testing the feasibility of the project.

How will this affect the environment?

Even with this hybrid power, Reimers thinks that the environmental impact could see a serious reduction: “At best, this could reduce CO2 emissions, and fuel consumption, by 20%.” This reduction would only increase once the flights are fully electric, and an additional benefit would be a reduction in noise pollution.

Another advantage of this is that the changes will cause flights to become cheaper to operate, and therefore cheaper for consumers. Reimers explained: “[It will] reduce costs to passengers to a much lower level. The planes will become similar to buses, and will be far more effective than trains or other means of transport. Simultaneously, they’ll have a fantastic environmental profile.”

Currently, air transport account for 2.4% of greenhouse gas emissions for Norway’s domestic traffic, so action in this area could represent a significant positive contribution towards the country’s emissions reduction aims.

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