Airborne transportation is a necessity in Norway driven by the geography characterised by long coasts and mountainous terrain. To reach national ambitions of an emission-neutral society, low- and zero-emission aviation solutions for domestic airborne transportation are needed. With 80% of the Norwegian population that lives near the coast and busy domestic flight routes, Norway is ideal for short-haul low-emission aviation infrastructure based on seaplanes.
With the X10 project, Elfly AS will develop the world’s first full-scale electric amphibious seaplane based on the flying boat concept. The X10 will be an experimental 9-seater prototype and will enable the development of a zero-emission, effective, and highly flexible means of passenger and cargo transport that reduces travel time by up to 70%.
Battery electric aircraft based on the flying boat concept has not previously been realised and the project will address several research and development challenges: i) aero- and hydrodynamic analysis to validate if Elfly’s designed model is stable enough to scale; ii) research the use of lightweight materials in aircraft development to reduce overall weight; iii) study of critical parameters to promote safety in seaplanes and possibility for night flying; iv) how to assess structural health of used materials; and v) validate if the X10 concept can be developed into a commercial aircraft.
The X10 concept will target passenger transport, cargo and logistics solutions, and patient transport. Elfly’s ambition is to commercialise the new aviation infrastructure with Norwegian produced electric seaplanes and floating airports by 2030 in Norway and in 2031 across Scandinavia. This will facilitate a new Norwegian industry for zero-emission aviation and generate new green jobs.
The project will address UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 13 and 7 by catalysing the aviation industry’s shift away from fossil fuel reliance towards renewable energies.
Europe’s aviation sector accounted for 13.9% of EU's total transport GHG emissions in 2019, second only to road transport, and is expected to triple its emissions by 2050 if drastic action is not taken. The sector is ripe for innovation and emissions-reducing solutions, but it has been difficult to shift away from fossil fuels in aerial transport given that the energy consumption of today’s aircraft is too high for most low emissions solutions, such as battery power. Aircraft, and in particular seaplanes, are uniquely suited to Norway’s mountainous topography with ample access to water, as 80% of the country’s population lives near the coast.
The X10 electric seaplane project will research and develop the X10, a 9-passenger fully electric seaplane for use on short-haul flights (up to 380 km projected range). The aircraft will be a highly flexible means of passenger and cargo transport capable of reducing average travel time by up to 70% and GHG emissions by 85%. Designed as a flying boat-style amphibious seaplane, the X10 is capable of taking off and landing on both ground and water. It offers improved aero- and hydrodynamics as compared to other styles of seaplanes, enabling it to be powered by batteries and charged using green energy sources, making it a fully sustainable aircraft concept. Our solution incorporates a uniquely designed hull/fuselage crafted with innovative composites and metal-composite joining techniques to produce an aircraft that is capable of meeting the low energy requirements to make short-haul electric flights possible, while also being safer for passengers than existing floatplane-style seaplanes, with a lower centre of gravity and reduced tipping risk. X10 is aligned with the purpose of this Pilot-T call, as it accelerates the application of novel, smart and environmentally friendly transport systems of the future.