Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) and Finnair have joined other partners including Icelandair in the Nordic Network for Electric Aviation (NEA). The partners aim to jointly expand knowledge and cooperation.
The network is hosted and coordinated by Nordic Innovation, an organisation promoting cross-border trade and innovation under the Nordic Council of Ministers. Along with the three airlines mentioned above, the network also includes Air Greenland, Braathens Regional Airlines and electric airline startup El Fly, as well as airport operators in Norway and Sweden, Heart Aerospace, the Nordic Initiative for Sustainable Aviation, and the Swedish research institute Rise.
Although the Nordic countries have invested more in the uptake of zero-emission transport than their European counterparts, plane travel still poses a huge challenge: In much of the Nordic region, most especially Norway and Iceland, the mountainous landscape limits the possibilities for building high-speed rail infrastructure. For many small communities, air travel is their only viable option.
Of the Nordic countries, Norway has quite explicit plans to ensure short distance flights are electric by 2040, the country with the highest uptake of electric vehicles in the world also plans to open an electric aeroplane test stretch in 2025. After a small electric plane was tested by the Slovenian manufacturer Pipistrel in Norway, the electric aeroplane took to the skies again in Finland for another test flight in August this year.
Under the umbrella of the Nordic Network for Electric Aviation, Maria Fiskerud from participating research institute Rise emphasised the benefits of working together for common goals. She asserted that “We believe that the fastest, most affordable and sustainable transportation for regional travel is electric aviation. To achieve that, we need to gather knowledge and people from many different sectors,” she said.
The Network has a number of specific goals that include a standardisation of infrastructure for the region as well as the development of business models for regional connectivity within and between countries. Nordic weather conditions will, of course, shape the framework of possibilities in the region. However, although the network is focussing on the Nordic regions, international collaborations will also be forged to share this Nordic model of sustainable regional air travel in other parts of the world.