In July 2018, Norway’s transport minister Ketil Solvik-Olsen and Dag Falk-Petersen, the head of the country’s airport company Avinor, took a very special flight together.
In front of the press they squeezed into the cockpit of a two-seat plane made by the Slovenian company Pipistrel. With Falk-Petersen at the controls, the pair took a short flight lasting a few minutes around Oslo in an Alpha Electro G2.
The flight’s novelty is partly explained by the aircraft’s name; it’s entirely powered by electricity. Battery-powered aircraft have made the leap from fantasy to drawing board to production. But it’s just the start.
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Solvik-Olsen and Falk-Petersen weren’t just flying this plane for a lark; it was to underline one of Norway’s most dramatic plans to cut down on its carbon emissions in the decades ahead. By 2040, Norway intends all short-haul flights leaving its airports to be on aircraft powered by electricity.
It’s one of the most far-reaching promises yet to cut down on aviation’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. But there is one major barrier – there are no airliner-size electric-powered aircraft being built yet.