As a designer and entrepreneur, Matthijs Collard worked with his own design agency on problems in the digital corner. But that bit of satisfaction never came. He wanted to make the future more sustainable. “The automotive industry is already fully greener, but aviation is still hopelessly behind,” Collard said. He changed course and founded the E-Flight Academy. “This traditional sector needs to be revised quickly.”
Collard: “I knew nothing about this sector, so I wanted to learn a lot in an existing team first. I wanted to join a club that is already deeply involved in this, but I quickly found out that this organization did not exist in the Netherlands. With the exception of a number of student teams and a few start-ups that develop components, there were hardly any commercial companies active in electric aviation until recently. ”
With the E-Flight Academy, Collard will train pilots in electric aircraft. Too quiet and clean flying is the future, according to him. For example, E-Flight Academy works with KLM Flight School: KLM Flight Academy. Pilots under training for KLM have since this year also received training in electric aircraft.
How do you ensure rapid sustainability?
“There is still too little happening in aviation. The sector is very traditional, which makes it difficult to implement new, innovative ideas. We need to change this. Our approach is to start small. It is not yet possible to fly more than an hour in an electric plane. We asked ourselves: what can you do in an hour? A flying lesson! We do not have to wait, but start somewhere. We teach pilots electric planes that would otherwise fly with fuel. In addition, we get a lot of practical experience, which helps to develop the technology. Both the aircraft and the charging infrastructure needed on the ground. “
What are you running into?
“There are no rules for electric flying. It was therefore quite difficult to write training for pilots in electric planes. Just think of the question: what kind of certification do I get when I finish this training? We have given the answer ourselves and are therefore an exception to the rule in the Netherlands, and we hope, of course, that we have paved the way for regulation throughout Europe.
But technical regulations are also completely different, for example for loading an aircraft. As a rule, do not refuel aircraft in a hangar. This is a rule in connection with any fire risk. But because of that rule, one must also not charge an electric plane up in a hangar. This is strange, because the manufacturer of these aircraft requires that the aircraft be charged indoors, because rain, wind and dust must not enter the charging station. We have to take that into account, but that does not mean that it does not stop us from getting started. Someone has to do it. It makes it easier for the next person. ”
What type of leader is needed?
“To continue to create sustainability in such a tough sector as aviation, we need people who are willing to take risks. In the new market we are in, we need people with courage who are not primarily are dependent on short-term profit.A good leader must work a lot together.With other companies, organizations and knowledge institutions.Everyone is part of the puzzle.We have therefore taken the initiative to start a campus where all initiatives in electric aviation come together.In this business, a leader must not be stuck, but be agile. ”
What goal do you have in mind?
“Flying electrically for an hour is of course useful for training, but also for imaging. We want more and more people to become aware of the future of electric flying. We are now flying in a two-seater, but hope to move to a four-seater and even a ten- or twenty-seater very soon. I hope many companies realize that what we do is also of interest to the rest of the market. We want to attract them and make them enthusiastic. For example, we hope that electric flying will be used where possible. Quiet and clean. “