Batteries Included: EV Aviation Taking Off

September 21, 2022

And they look cool.

Washington Post:

For years, scientists have clamored for quiet, climate-friendly airplanes that rely on batteries instead of jet fuel. Now, they’re closer to putting them into the skies.

A handful of airlines, including United, Mesa and Air Canada have started putting orders in for a battery-operated aircraft called the Heart Aerospace ES-30. The Swedish-made four-propeller, battery-powered plane seats up to 30 people and could fly short-haul routes such as Palm Springs to Los Angeles or Denver to Aspen without emitting any carbon. It’s slated to be in the air by 2028.

Meanwhile, tiny single-passenger electric planes are also getting the green light to fly, with some used by militaries in Europe. Electric seaplanes are being tested and used in Canada. And analysts at the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory are now projecting that hybrid electric 50- to 70-seater planes could be in service within a decade.

Electric planes could solve major headaches for airlines, manufacturers and industry experts say. They could help companies achieve promises to cut emissions and make shorter plane routes financially feasible by minimizing fuel and maintenance costs.

But major challenges remain, starting with battery technology, which needs to advance rapidly to make commercial travel viable. On top of that, the planes will need regulatory approvals, and airlines will need to convince passengers that flying thousands of feet in the air on battery power is safe, too.

“We haven’t done anything this new with aircraft since forever,” said Gökçin Çınar, an assistant professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Michigan. But “there’s definitely a lot that we need to work on still.”

Globally, commercial aviation accounts for 2.4 percent of the world’s climate emissions, but that could increase to 22 percent by 2050 if no changes are made, European government data shows.


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