The FAIR project was launched in the Kvarken region in early summer. The project’s goal is to create synergy, increase knowledge of the potentials of electric-powered flights, and accelerate the implementation of regional electric flights. Mr Janne Vasama, Chairman of the Helsinki Electric Aviation Association, attended the Wasa Future Festival to give his opinion on the potentials of electric aviation, both from a Nordic perspective and with the Kvarken region as a starting point.
Mr Janne Vasama, Chairman of the Helsinki Electric Aviation Association, laid out many benefits of electric aviation during Wasa Future Festival – both for the Nordic countries in general and for the Kvarken region: – Electric flights are practically emission-free, the need for the surrounding infrastructure is minimal, they’re affordable both for the users and society, and they provide the quickest and most efficient means of transport, he summarizes.
The Helsinki Electric Aviation Association was founded in 2017 by a group of persons interested in electric aviation technology.
– During these three years, development has progressed rapidly and we already have political discussion in Finland about the potentials of electric aviation, Mr Vasama states.
The association works at three different levels – partly with the electric airplane fleet, partly with the technology and necessary ecosystems surrounding electric aviation, and lastly also with communication.
– We’re involved in several projects and cooperate with, for instance, Aalto University. There are currently over 300 electric aviation projects throughout the world, and the first Finnish projects concerning electric aviation passenger traffic should be completed in five years, Mr Vasama continues.
An increasing number of prototypes are being developed, and there is great optimism amongst the manufacturers.
– There’s no shortage of challenges, concerning both battery technology and the certification for passenger traffic.
Moreover, it is not just a question of simply changing the engines – all surrounding functions must be changed and new operational models created. According to Mr Vasama, the general acceptance of electric aviation is based on four factors: safety, noise level and the experience itself, accessibility and, of course, the price.
“Electric flights can change our way of travelling, but they must be accessible to all”
– Electric flights can change our way of travelling, but they must be accessible to all – not just for companies and rich people as an exclusive means of transport. Booking a flight must be as easy as calling a cab, Mr Vasama states and compares electric aviation to high-speed trains:
– High-speed lines are incredibly expensive to build and require a large network of hubs and feeder lines to serve a useful purpose. In the end, travelers don’t save much time.
– Electric flights are the quickest and most efficient means of transport – with a minimal investment and zero emissions. Electric aviation could replace flight shame with pride, Mr Janne Vasama thinks. Here Vasama is discussing with Mr Juha Häkkinen, CEO at Ostrobothnia Chamber of Commerce, and MP Joakim Strand.
Mr Vasama gives many examples of the benefits of electric flights in the Kvarken region:
– The operating costs of electric flights are considerably cheaper, which leads to cheaper tickets. This, in turn, creates opportunities to establish new, shorter routes as well as shorter intervals for heavily trafficked business routes. Electric air-taxi flights would become cheaper, and instead of talking about flight shame we could feel proud about flying. The sea and climate render the Kvarken region an excellent test platform, not to mention the region’s industries.
– Exporting companies are in great need of global networks – similar to research, development and education. Tourism was the fastest growing sector in Finland up until the pandemic, and electric aviation would prove valuable also in health care, where speedy transports can be of vital importance. Companies recognize the benefits and value of developing electric aviation and gladly participate as pioneers, Mr Vasama explains.
Mr Mathias Lindström, Director of the Kvarken Council, agrees.
– Interest in the FAIR project has been overwhelming, and more and more people are recognizing the potentials of electric aviation. It could provide answers to some of our biggest challenges – emission levels and the profitability of marginal routes, and it could also enable us to establish completely new, regional routes. The project attaches great importance on producing the best possible knowledge base, and this is where Mr Vasama enters the picture.
– Projects that are initially seen as utterly utopian can be carried out – even significantly earlier than previously thought – if there are people with burning faith in their cause.
We’ve already shown this here in the Kvarken region, Mr Lindström tells.
“Potentials for the Nordic countries are enormous ”
Mr Lindström believes that the Nordic Council of Ministers should immediately take action, and Mr Vasama, too, emphasizes the benefit of a shared, Nordic electric aviation strategy.
– If the Nordic countries became pioneers, we could establish standards and business models and create the technology that is needed in our own climate. There are about 300 established flight routes with a range of 400 km in the Nordic countries. Current electric airplanes can already manage this distance – with 60 percent lower operating costs than normal planes.
– Potentials for the Nordic countries are enormous, Mr Lindström concludes.
Text and photo: Anna Sand / bySand
The event was live streamed on Youtube.
The presentation materials can be found HERE