Electric seaplanes could soon ferry passengers in the Pacific Northwest

Harbour Airlines wants the first all-electric seaplane fleet.

NASA, Boeing and Uber have each announced plans for electric and hybrid passenger aircraft, but a smaller aviation company might beat them to the punch. Yesterday, Harbour Airlines announced that it will convert all of its seaplanes into electric aircraft. The company plans to swap its current, conventional engines for 750 horsepower electric motors made by magniX.

Harbour Airlines, the largest seaplane airline in North America, will first convert its six-passenger DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver. It plans to test the aircraft later this year, and if all goes well, the company will convert its entire fleet. It will target flights under 1,000 miles, like it makes between its Seattle and Vancouver, Canada, hubs. According to magniX, such "middle mile" trips made up 75 percent of worldwide airline flights in 2018.

Harbour Airlines certainly isn't the only company looking to go electric. The aviation industry currently contributes 4.9 percent of global carbon emissions, and in the US, air traffic is responsible for 12 percent of carbon emissions. Earlier this year, Boeing completed the first test-flight of its autonomous electric aircraft. Uber hopes to get a hybrid-electric flying taxi off the ground around 2023, and NASA has an electric aircraft "testbed" in Ohio. We'll see who flies past the finish line first.