Author Topic: "The Air Is Electric"  (Read 1312 times)

Offline apophenia

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"The Air Is Electric"
« on: May 25, 2019, 05:31:11 AM »
In late 2018, Vancouver-based Harbour Air announced that they would move towards an 'emissions-free' fleet. The Harbour Air de Havilland Canada Beavers, Otters, and Twin Otters are all to be re-engined with MagniX magni500 electric motors producing 750 shp. 

That got me wondering what this future Harbour Air fleet would actually look like. So, here is Harbour's Turbo-Otter C-GHAS (in its special 'Fly Carbon Neutral' scheme) with the PT-6A replaced by a MagniX magni500 motor.

I placed the oil coolers beneath the motor ... whereas the MagniX Cessna Caravan 'iron bird' has its coolers mounted to starboard. I assume the 'iron bird' simply re-used the Caravan's cooler location. Mainly, I chose the under-motor cooler location to make this whif more subtle.

Oz Content: MagniX is based in Arundel, Queensland (south of Brisbane). A few months back, MagniX opened a new headquarters in Redmond, Washington (a bit closer for Harbou Air). AFAIK, tech development will remain in Oz while all the biz stuff happens in Boeingland.
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Re: "The Air Is Electric"
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2019, 05:50:06 AM »
Exciting company.  Have visited their Arundel facility and held discussions with them.  Have also seen the engines in question.  Looking forward to seeing them make a lot of waves in the future.

Their website:  https://www.magnix.aero
Some recent news:  https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/magnix-to-supply-eviation-alice-motors-as-all-electr-457593/
https://thedriven.io/2019/04/22/australias-magnix-chosen-to-power-eviation-electric-aircraft/
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Re: "The Air Is Electric"
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2019, 05:52:39 AM »
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Re: "The Air Is Electric"
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2019, 01:18:58 AM »
Other comments removed and sent to the Back Bar for now so as to let original thread to continue.
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Offline apophenia

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Re: "The Air Is Electric"
« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2019, 01:49:03 AM »
Thanks Greg. And that was supposed to be the non-controversial part!  ;)

My next topic was going to be the controversial one  >:D

BTW: Agreed on MagniX beng an exciting firm. They seem to be way ahead of everyone else - actual hardware instead of aspirational artwork! What was your impression of the Arundel facility?

On this side of the pond, we're given the sense that MagniX has "moved" to Redmond. Am I closer to the mark with the notion that technical work continues at Arundel while the suits are now based in Washington State?
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Offline Brian da Basher

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Re: "The Air Is Electric"
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2019, 06:33:50 AM »
Now that's an outstanding concept, apophenia!

Looks very convincing and I love your outside-the-box thinking!
 8)
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Offline apophenia

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Re: "The Air Is Electric"
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2019, 06:22:55 AM »
In a follow-up, here's my take on Harbour Air's DHC-2E Beaver conversion.

I have imagined this transmogrification as being simpler than PT6A-powered Turbo Beaver conversions. The PT6A dry weight is about the same as a MagniX magni500 motor but there's also the battery packs. So, I kept my life simple with placement of those packs dictating no Turbo Beaver-style cabin extension. Likewise, limiting magni500 output to around 500 shp means no need to lose that lovely DH tailfin  ;)

I was planning an electrified 'Twotter' as well but I may tackle that in my next Topic. In the meantime, I'm in a story-writing mood so I'm going to do a whif future history of Harbour Air ...
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Offline apophenia

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Re: "The Air Is Electric"
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2019, 06:25:29 AM »
The Fall and Rise of Harbour Air

Harbour Air's conversion to zero-emission electric motors was possible because its scheduled routes are short enough to be handled by existing battery technologies. It also helped that all the aircraft types in Harbour's fleet could be re-fitted with the same engine type. [2] Australia's MagniX had recently debuted just such an electric motor - the 750 shp magni500. The first Harbour Air type to receive the new  electric motors were the radial-engined DHC-2 Beavers. Conversion work was done on a rotational basis by Viking Air Ltd of Victoria, BC.

Conversion work went smoothly and, once flight and maintenance personnel were thoroughly familiar with the new propulsion system, the fleet gained an even better reputation for reliability. Harbour Air's wider-scale business was another matter. In late 2020, CEO Greg McDougall committed to a joint-venture deal with Chinese partners in Anhui province. The goal was to establish a new, shared-ownership floatplane service - Shixin Air - flying from Wushan city (on the Yangtse) to Dajiu Lake national wetland park in Hubei Province. The fleet was to be made up of MagniX-powered Cessna Caravans on floats. Harbour Air was to provide the business model and technical expertise. The trouble started almost from the outset.

Harbour Air's experience was based entirely on the use of de Havilland Canada airframes. The company had no practical knowledge of the Cessna Caravan. Nor was Harbour in a position to loan high-time floatplane pilots to this joint-venture. Instead, the Chinese partners, Zongshen Group, embarked upon a large-scale but somewhat undiscerning hiring campaign of foreign pilots. That, combined with floatplane operations in often foggy conditions, was a recipe for disaster. Poor flying conditions quickly gained Shixin Air a reputation for unreliable scheduling. A string of high-profile accidents added to the joint-ventures woes.

The Huangshan mountains which surround Dajiu Lake are also known as Yunhai - the Sea of Clouds. This didn't augur well for a floatplane based airline. In the first two months of operations, Shixin Air suffered three major accidents. The first involved an e-Caravan which struck floating debris in Wushan harbour. With a holed pontoon, the aircraft partially sunk but all passengers and crew were rescued. The first fatal crash came when a turbine Caravan flipped over landing on Dajiu Lake in low-lying mist, killing two passengers. Worse was to follow when an e-Caravan flew into Yanziya Mountain in heavy fog with the loss of all aboard. Soon, potential customers who could have been flying into the lakeside casinos were avoiding Shixin Air in droves.

Harbour Air CEO Greg McDougall saw Shixin Air as another potential victory in his 'zero-emissions' drive. Instead, Zongshen Group proved far more interested in marketing electric motorcycles than in performing e-Caravan conversions. Most of the Shixin Air retained their noisy PT6A turboprops. Passengers drawn in by the airline's promises of near-silent flight were often disappointed. Zuo Zongshen made multiple promises to rectify the 'electrification' short-fall but no real progress was ever made. The shuttering of Shixin Air was all but inevitable.

Back in British Columbia, Harbour Air's 'electrified' fleet was a technical and commerical success. And all 12 of the company's BC routes were highly profitable. However, the ill-considered joint-venture in China threatened to tow Harbour under. In early 2021, Harbour Air went into receivership. By May, the Government of British Columbia had stepped in and dissolved the company. Creditors were satisfied while an interim board of directors ran a revised Harbour Air (BC) Ltd with the same staff and fleet. In the Summer of 2021, Harbour Air was privatized once more when the floatplane operation was bought by the owners of HeliJet International.

In the aftermath, and as inheritors of Harbour Air's debts, the Government of British Columbia launched suits against the Zongshen Group Co. Ltd. and Zuo Zongshen personally. When the Supreme Court of British Columbia found in favour of the Province, appeals took these cases to the Supreme Court of Canada. The results were the same but were protested through diplomatic channels by the People's Republic of China. Unwilling to go directly against Beijing, Ottawa dragged out negotiations. Other than withdrawing some of its assets from Canada, [1] the Zongshen Group made no moves to settle. Zuo Zongshen admitted no wrong-doing but did surrender his 49% shares in Harbour Air. [2] The Government of BC would later place liens on this 500 acre property on Bowen Island.

_____________________________________________

[1] These included reneging on an 2016 agreement with ELIX Wireless on EV charging systems and shutting down Zongshen Group's Vancouver-based Canadian subsidiary. China-based Zongshen PEM (Canada) Chongqing Hydrogen Energy Ltd also changed its name.

[2] Zuo Zongshen's share of Harbour Air is a little puzzling. A year after his purchase, the GoC 'relaxed' its limit on foreign investment in Canadian airlines. That limit is now 49% but no single investor - like Zuo Zongshen - is permitted to own more than 25% of a Canadian airline.
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Re: "The Air Is Electric"
« Reply #8 on: May 31, 2019, 03:16:03 AM »
 :smiley:

I have a dream of either acquiring a PBY-5/6 and retrofitting it with solar panels on the upper wing, batteries within the wing/fuselage and a pair of doubled magni500 (capable of 750 hp ea - thus 1500hp per prop) and doing it up similar to a Landseaire or doing a new creation inspired by the Catalina but using modern materials and more efficient design but still the same basic concept.
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Offline apophenia

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Re: "The Air Is Electric"
« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2019, 05:23:59 AM »
I like it! And your doubled-up magni500s anticipates bits from my next Topic  ;)

Your alternative "new creation inspired by the Catalina but using modern materials" made me think of a scaled-down possibility. How about a Dornier Seastar with push/pull magni500s?

Last I heard, Diamond Aircraft had been contracted to build Seastars in London, Ontario.
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Re: "The Air Is Electric"
« Reply #10 on: June 01, 2019, 04:22:34 AM »
Last I heard, Diamond Aircraft had been contracted to build Seastars in London, Ontario.

The Seastar is also an option though I still have a love for the Catalina.  The Seastar normally has two PT6A-135s which are idea candidates for replacement by either two Magni500s or perhaps a Magni500 and a Magni250.  I understand they are now going to be built in Germany and China not Canada. 
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Offline apophenia

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Re: "The Air Is Electric"
« Reply #11 on: June 01, 2019, 05:27:48 AM »
...  I understand they are now going to be built in Germany and China not Canada.

 ;D  Just in Canada, Seastar production has been announced for British Columbia, Quebec, and Ontario. I wonder how many European and Asia locations have been similarly announced?  Hmmm, maybe a Catalina redesigned for Seastar-style construction materials?
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Offline apophenia

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Re: "The Air Is Electric"
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2019, 06:56:52 AM »
A minor update ...

According to the VP of Harbour Air, "Everything is on schedule. The [Beaver] is currently in Richmond being retrofitted and the engine is on the way up from Australia and should be here in August and we are on schedule to test fly in November."

That said, the first electrically-powered commercial flight may still be two years away.
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Offline kitnut617

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Re: "The Air Is Electric"
« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2019, 12:34:39 AM »
Steven, I've got a question to ask; what powers the motors ? Batteries ?
« Last Edit: June 10, 2019, 12:38:23 AM by kitnut617 »

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Re: "The Air Is Electric"
« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2019, 01:37:50 AM »
Steven, I've got a question to ask; what powers the motors ? Batteries ?

Electricity stored in lithium-ion batteries in the fuselage that provide enough energy to fly about 160 kilometres (100 miles) on a single charge. There are also plans to update the batteries in the future so as to increase the range.
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Offline kitnut617

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Re: "The Air Is Electric"
« Reply #15 on: June 10, 2019, 02:44:45 AM »
I've always wondered why an electric motor can't run a generator that was powerful enough to run the electric motor. I've done some reading up on it and depending what website you read, there is and there isn't --- It would seem to me to be the next step for electric motor development.

Offline Old Wombat

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Re: "The Air Is Electric"
« Reply #16 on: June 10, 2019, 07:29:39 AM »
Largely because you'd be breaking the Law of Conservation of Energy; Energy in = Energy out (Curse you, Physics! :icon_twisted:)

The system you describe, even with theoretical zero-energy-loss wires & absolutely friction-less generator & motors, will only give out the same power as put in from the original source (batteries, solar panels, nuclear power station, etc.).
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Re: "The Air Is Electric"
« Reply #17 on: June 11, 2019, 01:49:40 AM »
Largely because you'd be breaking the Law of Conservation of Energy; Energy in = Energy out (Curse you, Physics! :icon_twisted:)

The system you describe, even with theoretical zero-energy-loss wires & absolutely friction-less generator & motors, will only give out the same power as put in from the original source (batteries, solar panels, nuclear power station, etc.).

More to the point, having said arrangement do anything useful - such as running a propeller or a set of wheels - generates a massive drain on the system thus accelerating the drain.  As said above, even if a theoretically perfect arrangement such as that described were possible, it would do nothing useful.
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Re: "The Air Is Electric"
« Reply #18 on: June 11, 2019, 01:52:26 AM »
I've done some reading up on it and depending what website you read, there is and there isn't

Beware the internet.  Just because someone has the ability to publish something on line is no guarantee that they know what they are talking about.
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Offline kitnut617

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Re: "The Air Is Electric"
« Reply #19 on: June 11, 2019, 02:51:59 AM »
I've done some reading up on it and depending what website you read, there is and there isn't

Beware the internet.  Just because someone has the ability to publish something on line is no guarantee that they know what they are talking about.

Don't I know it already ---

Most of the images I looked at which show an electric motor hook up to an alternator were just straight 1 on 1. I was thinking why can't it run through a gearbox so it could power two alternators/dynamos. There was some images of an electric auto gearbox I saw which had two electric motors with one output shaft. Reverse what it does by attaching an electric motor to the output shaft and change the two electric motors to dynamos --
« Last Edit: June 11, 2019, 02:57:59 AM by kitnut617 »

Offline apophenia

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Re: "The Air Is Electric"
« Reply #20 on: June 11, 2019, 03:58:24 AM »
Electricity stored in lithium-ion batteries in the fuselage that provide enough energy to fly about 160 kilometres (100 miles) on a single charge. There are also plans to update the batteries in the future so as to increase the range.

Thanks Greg. I presume that those Li-ion batteries replace the lower fuselage fuel tanks?
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Re: "The Air Is Electric"
« Reply #21 on: June 11, 2019, 04:17:12 AM »
Electricity stored in lithium-ion batteries in the fuselage that provide enough energy to fly about 160 kilometres (100 miles) on a single charge. There are also plans to update the batteries in the future so as to increase the range.

Thanks Greg. I presume that those Li-ion batteries replace the lower fuselage fuel tanks?

Yep
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Re: "The Air Is Electric"
« Reply #22 on: June 22, 2019, 04:43:21 AM »
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Offline kitnut617

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Re: "The Air Is Electric"
« Reply #23 on: June 22, 2019, 06:08:22 AM »
Umm! that's an F-35 video ----  ;)

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Re: "The Air Is Electric"
« Reply #24 on: June 22, 2019, 06:09:22 AM »
Err...no.  It is a MagniX one.  I just clicked on it again to confirm.
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Offline kitnut617

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Re: "The Air Is Electric"
« Reply #25 on: June 22, 2019, 07:26:35 AM »
Hmm! I've just reclicked on your link and now it's showing a video about a Russian fighter, Su-27 or a variant. Can't tell because it's a Russian video all in Russian (and I don't speak Russian very well ---  ;D )

edit; Just clicked on it again and it's gone back to the F-35 one I saw earlier ---
« Last Edit: June 22, 2019, 07:29:04 AM by kitnut617 »

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Re: "The Air Is Electric"
« Reply #26 on: June 23, 2019, 03:35:04 AM »
It works no problem for me - just tried again.

Either way, if you search for "magniX @ the 2019 Paris Air Show" on youtube you should find it.
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Offline elmayerle

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Re: "The Air Is Electric"
« Reply #27 on: June 23, 2019, 12:44:34 PM »
It worked fine for me, no problem.  A very interesting concept that bears watching.

Offline kitnut617

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Re: "The Air Is Electric"
« Reply #28 on: June 23, 2019, 11:01:55 PM »
Had another try and saw the problem, At the beginning for about a blink of the eye, it starts with the electric motor video, but jumps to the next video in the list. If I click on the back button it goes to the electric motor video. Not sure why it's jumping like that.

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Re: "The Air Is Electric"
« Reply #29 on: June 24, 2019, 02:26:41 AM »
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