OSLO, April 24 (Xinhua) -- According to Norway's state-owned airport operator Avinor, the Nordic country is to acquire its first electric aircraft within the next ten years, newspaper Aftenposten reported Monday.
Avinor chief executive Dag Falk-Petersen expects Norway to be the first in the world to use electric aircraft in regular scheduled traffic.
"Aircraft powered by batteries come with the same power and speed as electric cars," he said.
A group of the company's directors have been working for months on a project to prepare for the electric aircraft at Norwegian airports.
"We have informed our owners, the ministry of transport, about the project we have started and received full support from them to continue the work at full strength. We have good contact with the airlines and they have agreed to participate in the project," Falk-Petersen said.
Falk-Petersen said he was surprised by how far along was the development of electric passenger aircraft by European airline manufacturer Airbus. The factory has now convinced the Avinor boss that electric aircraft are far closer to completion than most had thought.
He believed that airplanes for less than 20 passengers could arrive relatively quickly, followed by those taking between 20 and 100 passengers and that can operate on routes with a flight time of around an hour.
Eventually, more powerful batteries will be able to fly double that distance and take even more travelers, Aftenposten wrote.
"In that case we talk about aircraft like today's short and middle planes from Boeing and Airbus, which can take around 150 passengers. When it comes to even bigger planes, we may have to wait a while and these will probably be hybrids that work on both biofuels and electricity," Falk-Petersen said.
The electric aircraft will make it cheaper to fly and implies eliminating all of the current emissions from aviation, he said.
"For some aircraft models, operating expenses will be halved compared to today's aircraft, and this will probably make a huge impact on ticket prices," Falk-Petersen said.
"They will also make less noise," he said.
However, Falk-Petersen said the big challenge would be convincing people that it will be equally safe to fly with an electric plane as the ones that run on jet fuel.
"In the models that aircraft factories have today on their project boards, aircraft are meant to have up to 20 engines. Today, most planes only have two engines. If one gets broken, the pilots must manage with half of the driving force," he said.
"Should one engine fail on an electric plane, there will still be 19 left. Moreover, the same safety concerns will be assumed with electric aircraft as with today's aircraft. It will be safer to fly by electric aircraft," Falk-Petersen said.
Ketil Solvik-Olsen, Norwegian minister of transport and communications, told Aftenposten that the government strongly believed in the project.
"This is exciting and can significantly change the aviation's environmental account. E-planes also provide lower operating costs and can make airplanes that are unprofitable today, profitable. This work has the full support of the government," Solvik-Olsen said.