Would You Buy an Electric Jet? You May Soon Have the Option
An electric jet traveled around the world in 2016, but will the market adopt them? Here’s how the market changed in 2018.
Ever since Heino Brditschka flew for nine glorious minutes in his Militky MB-E1 electric battery powered plane, there have been high hopes for an electric jet.
Well, 45 years have passed and it seems like just another fun aviation fact. But finally, it seems that one may be just about coming into view on the horizon.
Let’s have a look at recent developments in the world of electronic aviation and see how far off the electric jet dream we really are.
Electric Jets – Where Are We Now?
Solar Impulse 2 – the battery/solar-powered plane that made its way around the world with zero emissions in 2016 really engaged the world with the possibilities of the electric jet once again.
Two years on, how much progress was made in 2018?
While there has been progress, including some forward strides in battery technology, old challenges remain. These include the fact that batteries simply do not give as much bang for your buck as jet fuel does.
That means that batteries need to become about 5 times more efficient than they are now to come close to powering an electric jet with a reasonable number of passengers. Currently, pure electric planes are limited to just one or two passengers at the most.
That being said, there are plus points to electrics planes as well. One of these is that they can fly at higher altitudes, reducing drag. They also offer a more comfortable, less noisy experience for passengers.
Sticking Their Necks Out
One company that has made a bold prediction about the future of electric jets is the UK based Easyjet.
Currently, they are a budget, short-haul operator. Yet, in 2018 they set themselves an ambitious target – running short-half flights of less than two hours by 2030. They re partnering with American firm Wright Electric to bring this to reality.
Wright Electric have already created a two-seater, with a nine-seater set to be released in 2019. If development continues at this pace, a passenger service, say between London and Amsterdam, just might become a reality in 11 years time.
While the electric jet may be around in the next decade or two, it could be hybrid technology that provides the solution in the interim.
Hybrid Planes – Where Are We At?
Hybrid cars may now be part of everyday life, but hybrid planes?
Zunum Aero – backed by Boeing and Jet Blue – are hoping to make them a reality by 2022.
They boast a quieter experience, require shorter runways and reduced fuel costs for operators. Gas engines are used to recharge batteries mid-flight, extending their range. Modular batteries are housed in the wings.
Test flights are due to begin this year, so watch this space for updates on this exciting avenue of electric aviation!
The Electric Jet – The Future of Aviation
With the ever greater focus on efficiency, cost saving and, of course, helping the planet, electric aviation seems to be here to stay.
The biggest question is whether battery technology can move forward fast enough to get electric jets into the air – and keep them there with a decent number of passengers. Time will tell.
Jets are not the only aircraft taking to the skies.
Click here to read about the Tier 1 Engineering record-breaking electric helicopter.