EasyJet has announced it is officially backing plans to develop electric replacements for the fleet of aircraft it uses on short-haul flights.
The UK-based airline revealed on Wednesday 27 September that it has partnered with American manufacturer Wright Electric – a company that was only founded in 2016, but is already making waves in the industry, having successfully developed a two-seater fully electric prototype plane (see image).
They aim to make every short flight (under two hours), zero emissions by 2037.
EasyJet had previously indicated that it planned to look at more sustainable avenues.
The company’s chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall said the aerospace industry would be following the lead of automotive industry in developing electric engines and since 2000, their emissions have reduced by over 31%.
But this new TransAtlantic partnership is the first move to actually provide a tangible solution, and one that Wright Electric claims would not only reduce emissions but also noise pollution.
The company say their battery-powered models, capable of flying 335 miles, are 50% quieter than standard fuel models and 10% cheaper for airlines to buy and operate – savings which could be passed on to the customer.
With this limit on their distance, they could easily cover popular routes such as London to Paris, and Edinburgh to Bristol, making up a grand total of 20% of all passenger routes flown by EasyJet, according to a statement.
“For the first time in my career I can envisage a future without jet fuel and we are excited to be part of it,” said McCall, according to the BBC. “It is now more a matter of when, not if, a short-haul electric plane will fly.”
Not only will the planes be fueled differently, but they will also look far more streamlined if simulations from Wright Electric are anything to go by – the batteries to power the propellers would no longer be slung under the wings but placed inside the wings.
For now the partnership is focusing on making the decision commercially successful, according to EasyJet’s commercial officer Peter Duffy.
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Jeffrey Engler, Wright Electric co-founder has compared the concept of sustainable air travel to the challenge faced by NASA during the space race: “Everybody thought it was impossible” when US president Kennedy declared in 1961 that America would put a man on the moon by the end of the decade.
“Setting a big goal allows people to try to reach it,” he told the Press Association.
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