Harbour Air eyes 2023 for first electric passenger flights

Float plane operator Harbour Air is getting closer to achieving its goal of flying to and from Vancouver Island without fossil fuels.

A recent flight of the company’s electric de Havilland Beaver test plane saw the aircraft remain aloft for 29 minutes on battery power alone.

Harbour Air president Randy Wright says the company has joined with a new battery supplier to provide a lighter and longer-lasting power source.

The company hopes to get Transport Canada certification to start carrying passengers on electric seaplanes by 2023.

"This is all new to Transport, so they've got to make sure it's safe just like our aircraft that are running today,” Wright said Wednesday. “They're working very hard at this to get this certified because it's a first in the world."

Before the pandemic, Harbour Air flew approximately 30,000 commercial flights annually between Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo, Whistler, Seattle, Tofino, Salt Spring Island, the Sunshine Coast and Comox.

Wright says the company plans to eventually electrify its entire fleet of 42 de Havilland Beaver and Otter aircraft.