With Norway promising that all its short-haul flights will be electric by 2040, the head of Avinor has his eyes on commercial trips as early as 2025
Norway, already Europe’s leader in transport electrification, should have its first commercial electric-powered flight by 2025. That is according to Dag Falk-Petersen, chief executive at Avinor, Norway’s aircraft operator, in a recent interview with AFP.
“Aircraft producers see that they have to do it because otherwise there will be a new Tesla taking their positions,” said Falk-Petersen.
In January, Avinor had announced that all of the Nordic country’s short-haul flights should be 100% electric by 2040. Yet keen to push the envelope even further, the Avinor head now wants to have flights in operation within the next 7 years. “We believe all flights that last up to one and a half hours can be aired by electric aircraft,” he told AFP. This will include flights to other countries in Scandinavia.
It’s a highly ambitious prediction, given the technical hurdles that must be overcome to design a battery system capable of powering even a modest-sized passenger aircraft. Particularly, battery energy density will have to be increased by fivefold, to around 1kWh/kg. Forecasts for realising this hover at around 2045, suggesting Norway has its work cut out.
Nevertheless, Avinor looks to be putting some money where its mouth is. In a recent update the group said it was partnering with the Norwegian Air Sports Federation to buy the country’s first electric aircraft, which is now set to be delivered in May.
The groups will take on one of Pipistrel’s Alpha Electro G2s, the first electric two-seater aircraft to be approved for commercial production. The aircraft uses a 21kWh battery, powering a 60kW motor, offering a range of approximately 130km. It can remain in the air for around 1 hour before landing for recharging.
The two-seater trainer is certainly a long way from an aircraft capable of flying dozens, if not hundreds of commercial passengers, but it’s a running start for a nation clearly committed to decarbonising transport.
Given the strict regulatory regime in Norway, Avinor has also said that switching sooner rather than later would help it avoid any carbon-related penalties which could be imposed on GHG-heavy industries like aviation, such as such as higher taxes and or restrictions on when and where conventional aircraft could fly.
The CEO of regional airline Widerøe was also confident that the country provided an ideal place to test these aircraft for the harshest operating environments. “There are a lot of issues to deal with, with icy conditions, with heavy winds,” Stein Nilsen told AFP. “But if we can do that here in Norway, I’m certain that this air plane will cope with any conditions in any place in the world.”
Indeed, the challenges do not seem to be daunting Falk-Petersen. “In my mind, there is no doubt: by 2040 Norway will be operating totally electric,” he said.