Loganair Skeptical Of Electric Aircraft Potential
Loganair CEO Jonathan Hinkles believes hydrogen propulsion is likely to mature quicker than electric aviation, despite his airline operating short-sector lengths tipped most likely to benefit from electric-aircraft technologies.
“We’ve been doing an awful lot of work around this,” Hinkles said, speaking at a recent Aviation Club lunch in London. “The challenges that we see on the electrical side of the industry at the moment are having sufficient range.”
Loganair operates the shortest scheduled flight in the world, which is a 1.5-mile flight from Westray to Papa Westray in the Scottish Orkney Islands, lasting just two minutes.
“We fly very short flights within the Orkney Islands. The longest is 17 minutes; the shortest is two,” Hinkles said. However, Loganair has to carry sufficient fuel reserves for a 50-minute diversion from the Orkney capital of Kirkwall to Aberdeen.
“The duration that you need on the batteries is vastly different than just that for the short hop itself,” he said. “That’s the barrier that we’ve got to overcome. If I was a betting person, I would actually say that I think hydrogen power will be in commercial use far earlier and far faster than the electric, purely and simply because of this.”
For Hinkles, the problem is the physics of getting enough battery power onto the aircraft to be able to work with it.
Likewise, Conor McCarthy—founder and CEO of Irish regional Emerald Airlines—does not believe battery technologies will mature quickly enough to give the power-to-weight ratio needed for commercial regional flying.
“I don’t really believe in the electric piece,” McCarthy said, speaking to Aviation Daily in late 2022. “I’m more of a believer that hydrogen will probably be first, but I won’t be first with hydrogen.”
Air Greenland CEO Jacob Nitter Sørensen also said he is unlikely to take up on the first generation of electric aircraft, but he said these projects give hope for the future of the industry.