Electric aviation a viable future option in Finland

According to a recent report by the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom, electric aviation is a credible alternative for the small passenger volumes in Finland going forward. The future demand for electric aviation will be driven primarily by industrial and tourism needs, and it is estimated to become more commonplace in the 2030s. The report maps the opportunities and boundary conditions of electric aviation in Finland.

In aviation, the electrification megatrend is connected to short-range and low-capacity aircraft in particular. Electronic aviation is expected to start towards the end of the 2020s in Finland and become prevalent in the 2030s. In many ways, the Finnish circumstances are an excellent fit for it: Finland covers a large area and has a small population, with settlements, business and tourism spread across the whole country.

“The time to promote a digital and low-emission air transport system in Finland is right now. Electronic aviation represents a fresh start for the slim passenger volumes of Finland. Electricity will allow for flying regular scheduled services with low volumes of passengers and providing taxi air services," says Director Jari Pöntinen.

Electric aviation is especially well-suited for crossing geographical obstacles, such as waterways. "Electric aviation could possibly be suited for flights to Mariehamn, Estonia or across the Northern Quark to Sweden. Electric aviation could also be suited for services between tourism destinations in Northern Finland, because railways are scarce in the north and travelling by roads takes a long time," Pöntinen continues. 

Finland boasts an extensive network of airports and aerodromes that serves as a foundation for electric aviation. However, using this network for electric aviation will require investments in charging or hydrogen distribution infrastructure.

Towards carbon neutral logistics and accessibility through electric aviation

The future demand for electric aviation will be driven primarily by industrial and tourism needs. The industrial sector is developing towards carbon neutral production and logistics, and electric aviation can provide carbon neutral accessibility. In the tourism sector, electric aviation can serve as a basis for building sustainable travel concepts. 

Electric aviation will reduce the environmental impact of aviation dramatically. However, electric aviation is only a partial solution to reducing emissions from aviation from the point of view of the entire air transport system. Alternative fuels, such as sustainable aviation fuels and hydrogen combustion, will play a key role in the emissions of long-range air transport in the future.

Technological advances to increase aircraft capacity and range

Electronic aviation will start with small aircraft with the ability to carry a few people as well as cargo aircraft. Aircraft capacity and range will increase in step with technological advances in accumulators. Larger electric aircraft will be powered by electricity produced with hydrogen using fuel cells. When it comes to setting targets for electrification, Norway is leading the way, having set the goal of carrying out all domestic flights electrically by 2040.

”Electric aviation is a viable future option in Finland, and we should promote it through comprehensive cooperation aimed at rolling out new technology and renewing operating models in air transport,” says Professor Jorma Mäntynen, who participated in drafting the report.

Regarding measures, the report proposes closer examination of financial incentives for and the social benefits of electric aviation as well as concrete national and international R&D&I activities and pilots for promoting electric aviation and related transport chains. 

Regulation that takes into account the special characteristics of electric aviation is still being developed. For now, electric aviation is subject to the same regulations as general aircraft and flight operations.

The report was drafted by Destia Oy for Traficom.

Link to report (in Finnish) (External link)

Enquiries

Director Jari Pöntinen, jari.pontinen@traficom.fi, tel. +358 (0)29 534 6071