The Norwegian Equator Aircraft plan would provide an alternative to expensive and noisy models to serve areas that are more inaccessible by land, away from major transport hubs, and the company would create a whole family of models of electric-powered amphibian aircraft.
At the company’s headquarters in Jarlesberg, 100 kilometers south of Oslo, testing of a two-seater, all-composite, electric-powered study aircraft capable of carrying two people began as early as 2018. The experience gained with this experimental amphibian is incorporated into the design of machines already intended for series production. The development of the first of these, codenamed X4, is already at an advanced stage because it is practically an enlarged version of the study machine, designed to carry four people. The most significant disadvantage of electric propulsion is still the range, and even in terms of plans, Equator’s ideas cannot compete with conventional machines. Batteries must be carried throughout the flight, their weight is not reduced by the loss of energy as the fuel disappears from the tanks of aircraft with internal combustion engines, but the maximum voltage that can be obtained from them is constantly reduced, even if only slightly.
With 120 kWh of batteries, the X4 is designed for a maximum range of 185 kilometers and 90 minutes of continuous flight, which can be used for walking flights or to serve more enclosed areas. Equator would need € 5 million to produce the prototype and start the flight test program. Even so, they would make the first flight in 18 months, but buyers outside Norway would only have access to their planes around 2025. The larger amphibian, which is also ideal for commercial passenger transport and can carry 8 people, would have to wait more than that, in the good case it could be on the market by the end of the decade. However, according to the manufacturer, it is worth the wait, because in the end, obsolete amphibian aircraft converted from normal aircraft will be replaced with much lower maintenance and operating costs.