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Sees Passenger Flights By 2025 On Tiny Electric Plane: Norway

Norway tops the world league for per capita sales of electric cars

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People watch a test flight of a two-seat electric plane made by Slovenian firm Pipistrel at Oslo Airport, Norway, June 18, 2018.
People watch a test flight of a two-seat electric plane made by Slovenian firm Pipistrel at Oslo Airport, Norway, June 18, 2018. VOA

Norway tested a two-seater electric plane on Monday and predicted a start to passenger flights by 2025 if new aviation technologies match a green shift that has made Norwegians the world’s top buyers of electric cars.

Transport Minister Ketil Solvik-Olsen and Dag Falk-Petersen, head of state-run Avinor which runs most of Norway’s airports, took a few minutes’ flight around Oslo airport in an Alpha Electro G2 plane, built by Pipistrel in Slovenia.

“This is … a first example that we are moving fast forward” towards greener aviation, Solvik-Olsen told Reuters. “We do have to make sure it is safe – people won’t fly if they don’t trust it.”

He said plane makers such as Boeing and Airbus were developing electric aircraft and that battery prices were tumbling, making it feasible to reach a government goal of making all domestic flights in Norway electric by 2040.

Norwegian Transport Minister Ketil Solvik-Olsen and head of the Avinor Dag Falk-Petersen stand next to a two-seat electric plane made by Slovenian company Pipistrel at Oslo Airport, Norway, June 18, 2018.
Norwegian Transport Minister Ketil Solvik-Olsen and head of the Avinor Dag Falk-Petersen stand next to a two-seat electric plane made by Slovenian company Pipistrel at Oslo Airport, Norway, June 18, 2018. VOA

Asked when passenger flights in electric planes could start, Falk-Petersen, the pilot, said: “My best guess is before 2025 … It should all be electrified by 2040.”

The two said the plane, with a takeoff weight of 570 kg (1255 lb), was cramped and buffeted by winds but far quieter than a conventional plane run on fossil fuels.

Norway tops the world league for per capita sales of electric cars such as Teslas, Nissan Leafs or Volkswagen Golfs, backed by incentives such as big tax breaks, free parking and exemptions from road tolls.

In May 2018, 56 percent of all cars sold in Norway were either pure electric or hybrids against 46 percent in the same month of 2017, according to official statistics.

Norway, a mountainous country of five million people where fjords and remote islands mean many short-hop routes of less than 200 kms, would be ideal for electric planes, Solvik-Olsen said. Also, 98 percent of electricity in Norway is generated from clean hydro power.

Some opposition politicians said the government needed to do far more to meet green commitments in the 200-nation Paris climate agreement.

A two-seat electric plane made by Slovenian firm Pipistrel stands outside a hangar before a test flight at Oslo Airport, Norway, June 18, 2018.
A two-seat electric plane made by Slovenian firm Pipistrel stands outside a hangar before a test flight at Oslo Airport, Norway, June 18, 2018. VOA

“This is a start … but we have to make jet fuel a lot more expensive,” said Arild Hermstad, a leader of the Green Party.

The first electric planes flew across the English Channel in July 2015, including an Airbus E-Fan. French aviator Louis Bleriot who was first to fly across the Channel, in 1909, in a fossil-fuel powered plane.

Electric planes so far have big problems of weight, with bulky batteries and limited ranges. Both Falk-Petersen and Solvik-Olsen said they had been on strict diets before the flight.

Also read: Norway Emerges Leader, Having World’s Fastest Mobile Internet

“My wife is happy about it,” Solvik-Olsen said. (VOA)

Next Story

Beware! As The Seat-Back Entertainment System on Your Flight Can Watch You

A passenger on a Singapore flight posted a photo of the seat-back display last week, and the tweet was shared several hundred times and drew media notice. Buzzfeed first reported that the cameras are also on some American planes.

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American Airlines aircraft sit at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, June 16, 2018. Newer seat-back entertainment systems on some airplanes operated by American Airlines and Singapore Airlines have cameras, and it’s likely they are also on plane. VOA

Now there is one more place where cameras could be watching you — from 30,000 feet.

Newer seat-back entertainment systems on some airplanes operated by American Airlines and Singapore Airlines have cameras, and it’s likely they are also on planes used by other carriers.

American and Singapore both said Friday that they have never activated the cameras and have no plans to use them.

However, companies that make the entertainment systems are installing cameras to offer future options such as seat-to-seat video conferencing, according to an American Airlines spokesman.

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Newer seat-back entertainment systems on some airplanes operated by American Airlines and Singapore Airlines have cameras, and it’s likely they are also on planes used by other carriers. Pixabay

Cameras standard features

The airlines stressed that they didn’t add the cameras — manufacturers embedded them in the entertainment systems. American’s systems are made by Panasonic, while Singapore uses Panasonic and Thales, according to airline representatives. Neither Panasonic nor Thales responded immediately for comment.

As they shrink, cameras are being built into more devices, including laptops and smartphones. The presence of cameras in aircraft entertainment systems was known in aviation circles at least two years ago, although not among the traveling public.

Seth Miller, a journalist who wrote about the issue in 2017, thinks that equipment makers didn’t consider the privacy implications. There were already cameras on planes, although not so intrusive, and the companies assumed that passengers would trade their images for convenience, as they do with facial-recognition technology at immigration checkpoints, he said.

“Now they’re facing blowback from a small but vocal group questioning the value of the system that isn’t even active,” Miller said.

American Airlines spokesman Ross Feinstein said cameras are in “premium economy” seats on 82 Boeing 777 and Airbus A330-200 jets. American has nearly 1,000 planes.

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The airlines stressed that they didn’t add the cameras — manufacturers embedded them in the entertainment systems. American’s systems are made by Panasonic, while Singapore uses Panasonic and Thales, according to airline representatives. Neither Panasonic nor Thales responded immediately for comment. Pixabay

“Cameras are a standard feature on many in-flight entertainment systems used by multiple airlines,” he said.

Also Read: Samsung to Launch Tablet Folded Smartphone for $2000

Singapore spokesman James Boyd said cameras are on 84 Airbus A350s, Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s and 787s. The carrier has 117 planes.

Cameras not turned on

While the airlines say they have no plans to use the cameras, a Twitter user named Vitaly Kamluk, who snapped the photo of the camera on his Singapore flight, suggested that just to be sure the carriers should slap stickers over the lenses.

“The cameras are probably not used now,” he tweeted. “But if they are wired, operational, bundled with mic, it’s a matter of one smart hack to use them on 84+ aircrafts and spy on passengers.” (VOA)