Dutch airports launch electric flying pilot ‘Power Up’

11 May 2021 Consultancy.eu 3 min. read

A consortium of Dutch airports is creating a learning environment – ‘Power Up’ – where they can experiment with electrical flying on a pilot basis.

Eindhoven Airport, Rotterdam The Hague Airport and Groningen Airport Eelde are participating in the new trial, which is supported by the Royal Schiphol Group (the country’s main airport in Amsterdam), the Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR) and M3 Consultancy – a Utrecht-based management consulting firm specialised in supply chain and digital operations services.

The project explores the possibility of electrifying aviation – a topic that is increasingly at the forefront of public discourse owing to the industry’s heavy environmental impact. “Electric flying is a technically and economically feasible, and fast means of transport to connect regions,” noted M3 Consultancy partner Martin Mommersteeg. 

Dutch airports launch electric flying pilot ‘Power Up’

According to him, M3 Consultancy research shows that electric aircraft could cover distances of 500 kms to start with, and eventually extend to 1,000 kms. Power Up hopes to set the tone for the potential electrification of short haul flights across Europe – a scenario that might well arrive in the next half a decade or so. 

Further reading: Green airplanes can dominate short-haul flights by 2040

“The aim is to first experiment with 4-seater to 9-seater aircraft in the Netherlands, and eventually to build a dense European network and to operate with larger aircraft,” said Mommersteeg – who added that the trials would give insight into feasibility and handling of electric flights. Dutch airports have already been exploring various aspects of the new technology, and will now bring their expertise together. 

“We believe it is important to do this together with other airports, so that sustainable connections are created between the important regions in Europe in the future,” explained Meiltje de Groot, CEO of Groningen Airport Eelde. “This cooperation fits in perfectly with our ambition: electric flights from Groningen Airport Eelde within five years!” she added. 

CEO of Rotterdam The Hague Airport Ron Louwerse revealed how the Rotterdam The Hague Innovation Airport foundation has been working with TU Delft and Royal NLR to build green aircraft for over two years now – trialling both electrification and green hydrogen

“We are happy to contribute our data and research results. With several Dutch airports working together, we hope to be able to speed up this process,” he said. President and CEO of the Royal Schiphol Group Dick Benschop explained how the project can establish the Netherlands as a leader of sustainable aviation technology. 

“Dutch airports are creating a learning environment for electric flying and, at this early stage, are starting to develop knowledge in the field. With the Netherlands as the testing ground for aviation, the knife cuts two ways, our international competitive position and employment opportunities grow, and our knowledge base and business climate are strengthened.” 

Regional bodies such as Brainport Development and Brabant Development Agency are also involved in Power Up – a ticket to building a well-connected network of green flights in the next five years. 

With air travel expected to take roughly the same time to recover to pre-corona levels, aviation might well bounce back as a more sustainable industry.