By October 5, 2017 1 Comments Read More →

Small electric-hybrid airliner backed by Boeing to hit market in 2022

electric-hybrid airliner

Kirkland Washington’s Zunum Aero says it will bring an electric-hybrid airliner to market by 2022. Zunum Aero image.

Electric-hybrid airliner can cut travel time, costs

Zunum Aero, a Seattle-area startup company backed by Boeing and JetBlue Airways, is planning to introduce a small hybrid-electric airliner to market by 2022, according to a Reuters report.

The company says its 12 passenger plane powered by two electric motors will dramatically cut travel time and the cost of trips under 1,000 miles.

energy eastMatt Knapp, co-founder of Zunum Aero says the planes will use electric-vehicle batteries, such as those made by Tesla and Panasonic, to power the motor and a supplemental gas engine and an electrical generator will give the plane a range of 700 miles.

Zunum says it has no commitment with Tesla or Panasonic.

The company expects to offer a larger plane capable of seating 50 passengers by the end of the next decade.

Knapp, the company’s chief aeronautic engineer says improved battery technology is expected to boost range in later models to about 1,000 miles.  He says battery technology available today can only power the plane for about 100 miles.

Knapp foresees a day when the planes will be powered entirely by battery power and piloted remotely.

The company is looking to provide an option for regional travel for airlines where private jets and commercial jetliners are too expensive for most consumers.

Zunum Aero image.

“Airlines are very keen to know how to fly a shorter distance and make money on it,” Knapp told Reuters.  He added recent advances in EV and autonomous vehicle technology, lightweight electric motors and carbon composite airframes will help reduce the cost of flying Zunum’s aircraft to 8 cents per seat-mile.  That amounts to about one-fifth of the cost of a small jet or turboprop plane.

“We’re getting airline pricing down on a small plane and doing it for short distances,” Knapp said. “That kind of aircraft doesn’t currently exist.”

Zunum says the plane will cruise at about 340 miles per hour, reaching altitudes of about 25,000 feet.

Despite flying lower and slower than jets, the electric-hybrid airliner will cut time for travellers who will be able to fly from thousands of regional airports.  Passengers will avoid large hub airports used by major airlines and shave time spent going through enhanced airport security for larger planes.

Zunum says currently, about 96 per cent of US air traffic travels through 1 per cent of its airports.

According to Reuters, a number of companies, including Uber Technologies Inc and Airbus, are working on intra-urban electric powered self-flying cars.

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1 Comment on "Small electric-hybrid airliner backed by Boeing to hit market in 2022"

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  1. Sherwood Botsford says:

    Short on numbers. Short on tech. A car uses the full power of the engine for very short periods of time. Getting up to speed. An aircraft uses full power for significant periods of time (climbing to altitude) and cruises at a significant fraction of full power. I don’t see where the efficiency of a hybrid would come from. You need a motor/generator attached to the turbine that provides nearly the power of the turbine. This makes for a lot more mass spinning.

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