Dag Falk-Petersen, the chairman of Norwegian airport operator Avinor, thinks it’s “highly realistic” that electric planes will fly commercial flights by 2025. This according to Norwegian news site Romerikes Blad (rb).
Talking at a smart mobility conference in Lillestrøm, Norway, earlier this month, Falk-Petersen pointed out that a sustainable aviation industry will depend on electrification — and that Norway could lead the transition.
“Electrification will be the next big thing in aviation. We find that both Airbus, Boeing and others are now looking for Norway with a view to testing their solutions here and we would like to be a catalyst to get this done,“ said Falk-Petersen, who worked for Scandinavian airline SAS before joining Avinor.
“The technology already exists and it is by no means utopian that the first [commercial] electric aircraft can fly in 2025.”
Among the benefits with electric planes Falk-Petersen listed halved operating costs for airlines and hence cheaper flights, in addition to recuced noise levels and better use of smaller airports with shorter runways.
Electrification and biofuels: aviation game-changers?
That Norway would be a keen proponent of an electrified airline industry is no coincidence: last month, an electric power industry organization said the country could be the world’s first fully electrified country by 2050, according to public broadcaster NRK.
In the medium term, Falk-Petersen believes biofuels are key in reducing the industry’s emissions, (some 2 percent of the planet’s carbon footprint and growing): “The development of zero-emission aircrafts and bio jetfuel are two of the most promising aspects on the road towards a sustainable aviation,” Falk-Petersen said.
“We were the first in the world to try [jet biofuels] out, and now we work intensely with the airline industry to scale up production – preferably from Norwegian forest.”
Airbus is already developing battery-run aircraft
Falk-Petersen has been a proponent of Airbus’ electrified aircraft program, E-Fan, which is based on the European Union’s ‘Flightpath 2050’ goal, including a 75% reduction of CO2 emissions per passenger kilometer. Airbus’ battery-powered E-Fan demonstrator plane was the first electrified aircraft to cross the English Channel in 2015.
“This is the starting point for bringing electrification of aviation to Norway,” said Secretary General John Eirik Laupsa of Norwegian Air Sports Federation, when two of the E-Fan planes were flown to Norway last year.
Airbus’ upcoming E-Fan 2.0 is planned to be the world’s first all-electric plane certified to international airworthiness standards. E-Fan 2.0 is a serial production version that is scheduled to take its maiden flight in late 2017.