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Saturday, September 24, 2022

Future of Electric Planes

Good overview of efforts underway.

Electric planes take off   in Strategy-Business

The potential for short-haul electric flight is energizing aviation’s newest startups.

by Raymond Colitt

Two airports in Spain illustrate both the past and future of commercial aviation. In the country’s east, more than 100 jet aircraft, including giant A380s, glisten like a mirage under a scorching Iberian sun at Teruel Airport, a parking lot for technology past. Only a few of these gas guzzlers are likely to fly again. Around 250 miles to the south, the ATLAS Flight Test Centre in Villacarrillo is providing a runway for a new breed of much smaller aircraft: electric vertical takeoff and landing planes, or eVTOLs.

by Nochane Rousseau, Mario Longpré, and Paul Barbagallo

With more countries and companies agreeing to reduce emissions, the future for the bulky jets we fly in today and the companies that operate them is changing. “The biggest challenge to commercial aviation is the commitment that’s been made to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050,” Tony Douglas, group CEO of Etihad Aviation Group, told the Global Aerospace Summit in Abu Dhabi in May. Flying accounts for only 2.5% of CO2 emissions. But those emissions are created by the relatively small proportion of humans who fly each year, and the industry is poised to expand. It will be very difficult to reduce flying-related emissions without grounding airplanes. “I imagine everybody in this room understands that the physics of powered flight render the achievement of that objective [net zero] extremely difficult anytime soon,” Douglas added.

Not surprisingly, engineers and scientists around the globe are in a race to crack the nut of zero-emissions flying. The challenge of replicating the electric vehicle (EV) revolution in the air is that, simply put, defying gravity requires more energy. Moving a heavy battery along a flat road in a car is easier than lifting it into the air on a plane or helicopter. (Clean airplane fuels, which are liquids or gases derived from sustainable sources, are still very expensive and, according to a PwC report, won’t be widely available or cost-effective for more than a decade. But they are still likely to be the fuel of the future for long-haul flying.) .... ' 

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