Innovation

The Era Of Electric Planes Is Almost Here

by Maya Kachroo-Levine

June 5, 2018

In a world where drones can deliver pizza, our wildest transportation dreams are finally coming true. 

Between the possible hyperloop from San Francisco to Los Angeles and self-driving Teslas coming to a highway near you, some whimsical transportation advancements are taking up the spotlight. And as more cars become electric, it seems it’s only a matter of time before we can even fly the friendly skies in a hybrid.

But the era of hybrid-electric planes isn’t just a fantasy. 

Zunum Aero recently received an order for 100 hybrid-electric planes from JetSuite, set to be delivered by 2020. Zunum, which is a company backed by JetBlue Technology Ventures and Boeing HorizonX, aims to make their planes faster, less expensive, and of course, more eco-friendly than the planes currently on the market. The hybrid planes are 80% less noisy than most aircraft and produce 80% to 100% less carbon emissions.

In terms of fuel efficiency, electric planes make a lot of sense. A Boeing 747 uses approximately one gallon of fuel every second — which means it could use 36,000 gallons of fuel over a 10-hour flight.

The planes being made for JetSuite are still hybrids, which means they are only partially electric. However, Zunum does have plans to produce completely electric planes.

In addition to making air travel more accessible financially, Zunum wants to make travel easier on small communities in the United States.

Many small airports don’t have a lot of access to direct flights because the leading airlines use large aircraft that operate primarily out of major airports. By making smaller electric aircraft, Zunum hopes to “level the playing field” and provide more access to Americans living in smaller cities. “By having smaller aircraft fly economically against airliners, we can really blow open the air system to every community,” Zunum Aero CEO Ashish Kumar told Business Insider.

So stay tuned for the Prius of the sky — coming to a small airport near you.

Share image by ThePixelman/Pixabay.

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The Era Of Electric Planes Is Almost Here