ElectricAir’s two-seater electric plane has flown over the Cook Strait on Monday morning. This was done after 101 years when the first flight flew from New Zealand’s islands from Blenheim to Wellington.
Wellington Airport received its first flight this morning. The Pipistrel Alpha Electro was the first battery-powered, emission-free plane to make the flight across the strait.
Gary Freedman, the pilot stated that “In this environment, the plan changes almost day by day,” said Freedman who had been looking forward to the flight since it was first postponed last year. It’s more symbolic, to be honest. The plane can do that distance and more.”
The timing of the flight coincided with the opening of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow. These short-distance electric flights will be a huge leap towards sustainability for New Zealand. “The Cook Strait is one of the reasons Kiwis fly so much,” says Freedman. “We have one of the highest short-haul flights per capita anywhere in the world.”
The airline’s chairman Rhyan Wardman said they were “committed to the advancement of electric flight in New Zealand. Sounds Air has been great,” says Freedman. “They’ve been working with us on this, taking some of their pilots to see the plane and flying it.”
This flight can only accommodate 2 people now, but the airport is getting ready to host planes that have up to 19 seats in the coming five years.
“A lot of the pilots that we’ve been training over the past year know that it’s something they will need on their CV,” says freedman.
Euan Dickson’s plane went over the same trajectory 101 years ago in four and a half hours. It is unreal how it is possible to fly from Wellington to Sydney in less time and that too, on an electric aircraft.
“When they did it they were trying to prove it was doable,” says Freedman. “They wanted to show if they could do it carrying post, parcels maybe even people.”