Canadian government to help Swiss battery provider H55 build facility in Quebec to support electric aviation

Avatar for Brian DunnBy Brian Dunn | March 9, 2023

Estimated reading time 4 minutes, 16 seconds.

Swiss battery pack systems manufacturer H55 is building a manufacturing facility in Saint-Hubert, Quebec, to supply new and existing Canadian customers — including Pratt & Whitney Canada, CAE, and Harbour Air of Vancouver — with battery technology in support of green aviation initiatives. Saint-Hubert is also the location where Porter Airlines announced last week it is building a new 225,000-square-foot terminal in partnership with Montreal Saint-Hubert Airport.

The H55 plant is expected to be completed in 2024, when the first battery packs are scheduled to roll off the assembly line, according to the company. Noteworthy is the fact that the project is being supported by a $10 million interest-free loan from the Canadian government, through the Aerospace Regional Recovery Initiative.

Harbour Air is working with magniX and H55 to certify the world’s first electric Beaver commuter airplane through a supplemental type certificate program. Aaron Burton Photo

H55’s initial goal is to convert existing aircraft with its battery system. The company’s core product is the Electric Storage System (ESS), which “includes battery packs, battery management systems, and all interfaces with the electric propulsion system (EPS). The modular, lightweight, and certifiable ESS can be sized according to customer requirements, including voltage level, total energy, power, and volume.

H55’s first customer application with the 100 kW EPS is the Bristell B23 Energic, a two-seater electric trainer built by Czech aircraft manufacturer BRM — designed for flight schools and pilot training. The B23 Energic will be commercially available in 2024.

The Swiss company has been active in Canada since 2021. It already has a partnership with Pratt & Whitney Canada to supply the company with battery systems for the production of a hybrid-electric motor to power a De Havilland Canada Dash 8 aircraft. H55 also has a partnership with CAE and Piper Aircraft to develop an electric conversion kit for Piper’s Archer model. In addition, H55 has been working with Harbour Air to electrify its DHC-2 Beaver aircraft.

CAE’s electrified Piper Archer training aircraft. CAE Photo

The initial objective of the company is to deliver battery packs to its Canadian customers in 2024, and subsequently set up an automated production site by 2026, according to a report from La Presse. No costs or size of the production facility have been announced.

H55 is on a hiring spree for its new Quebec location, looking to hire a managing director of operations, product certificate lead, quality manager, and system requirements engineer, among other positions.

At the end of February, H55 also tapped Canadian Martin Larose to be the company’s new CEO at its head office in Sion, Switzerland. Larose was formerly chairman of Nova Bus. Before that, he was director of aircraft operations at Bombardier Inc.

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