A Norwegian aviation group has ordered 60 all-electric eFlyer2 planes, built by Colorado-based Bye Aerospace, with the intention of training a future generation of pilots in electric flight.
The order was announced on Thursday (overnight, Australian time) by OSM Aviation, which specialises in the training and supply of aircrew and which says the electric aircraft will be used at its flight training centres to qualify pilots.
With aviation accounting for around 12% of all global transport emissions, the order is a step towards a sustainable future for OSM Aviation and Norway’s goal to shift all short-haul routes to electric flight by 2040.
“We’re proud to take the lead in the future of green aviation.” said OSM Aviation Group CEO Espen Høiby in a statement.
“This is the largest order for commercial electric planes to date.
“It’s important that the airline industry steps up to the challenge of developing more environment-friendly transport. At OSM Aviation, we’re committed to pursuing a socially responsible and sustainable business,” Høiby said.
“We’re training the next generation of pilots, and are determined to attract the best candidates.
“We offer a forward-looking education which they can be proud to take part in. This order for 60 all-electric aircraft is a key step in that respect,” said Bjørn Granviken, managing director of the OSM Aviation Academy.
The eFlyer, formerly the Sun Flyer, is a 2-seater electric fixed wing plane that has been described by Bye Aerospace’s Norwegian partner Elfly AS as a game changer for the aviation industry.
“I think [Bye Aerospace] will be the first to mass produce a certified FAR 23 and EASA 23 all-electric airplane,” said Eric Lithun, CEO of Elfly AS in a statement.
“This is the game changer of aviation for small airplanes. The Bye Aerospace eFlyer will be the Tesla of the general aviation industry.”
So far, Bye Aerospace say it has received almost 300 orders for the eFlyer2, which completed its first successful test at Centennial Airport, south of Denver, Colorado in February this year and is kitted with electric propulsion from Siemens.
With electric flight offering not only reduced carbon emissions but also noise pollution, as well as superior speed and altitude performance according to Høiby, he says that the electrification of the aviation industry is inevitable.
This opinion is echoed by Ketil Solvik Olsen, former Norwegian minister for transport and communications and now responsible for establishing the OSM Aviation Academy.
“The state-owned Avinor company, which operates most of Norway’s civilian airports, made headlines last year when it piloted test flights with an electric plane,” Solvik Olsen noted in a statement.
“This made more people aware of the potential for green aviation. Now OSM shows that the business community is ready to take charge and move the industry further along this positive trend.”
OSM Aviation joins other short-haul airlines beginning to switch to electric flight , such as Hawaiian Mokulele Airlines which plans to offer converted electric Cessnas for flight by 2021.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.