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Is The Future Of Flying Electric?

Is The Future Of Flying Electric?

15th July 2020
By: Justine - F&F

Is The Future Of Flying Electric? 

We know the majority of the world isn’t flying right now, but this is the perfect time to think of a cleaner future. 

In our ideal world, everything would be run on solar or wind power, we wouldn’t have to worry about our carbon emissions because we wouldn’t have any. But, we know this isn’t realistic for our time, however, it doesn’t mean there aren’t some eco-warriors out there working to make this happen! 

We've come a long way with aviation since 1903 when the Wright brothers invented the first successful aeroplane. But we've learned over the years that planes produce greenhouse gases (mainly carbon dioxide) from burning fuel which is not good for our environment. Does this mean we should cut out overseas trips and only travel locally? This would help reduce your carbon footprint, but not all of us can sail around the world like climate change activist, Greta Thunberg.

Is The Future Of Flying Electric? Is The Future Of Flying Electric?

 

Is The Future Of Flying Electric? 

There are more airlines that are adopting ‘carbon neutral programs’ which is a step in the right direction. You may have seen a little box you can tick when checking out on aiirlines websites that says ‘offset my carbon’ for a few extra dollars. Sure, carbon offsetting helps to ‘balance’ out your carbon footprint, however, if we can cut out the emissions entirely, electric planes might be the answer. 

 

Is The Future Of Flying Electric? Is The Future Of Flying Electric?

 

When were electric planes invented? 

It turns out electric planes have been around for a while. In 1973, Fred Militky and Heino Brditschka converted a motor glider to an electric aircraft. It only flew for 14 minutes but was the first manned electric aircraft to fly under its own power.

Solar-powered aircrafts

The Solar Impulse is an aeroplane that is powered by solar power and has the ability to fly without fuel. The goal of this project was to bring awareness to renewable energy in the aviation industry. The plane has a wingspan of a Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet, the weight of a family car, the power of a small motorcycle.

In 2016, the solar impulse 2 became the first aircraft to circumnavigate the globe without a drop of liquid fuel! How does it run? The plane is equipped with more than 17,000 solar cells which are kind of like tiny solar panels that feed the energy directly to the aircraft. 

Watch pilot Bertrand Piccard give a tour of this modernistic marvel.

 

Is The Future Of Flying Electric? Is The Future Of Flying Electric?

 

Why aren’t there more electric planes on the market?

The bottom line is that batteries are heavy! Heavier than normal plane engines which means planes need to be redesigned around the batteries to accommodate their size and weight. Redesign means recertification for new planes to make sure they are safe to fly which can take years of extensive testing. Some companies have retrofitted old aircrafts with electric batteries, however, this has significantly decreased their airtime meaning shorter trips. 

There are a few companies who have developed and are working on models of electric planes.

Eviation

This Israeli start-up has designed a 9 seater aircraft called 'Alice'. This futuristic-looking vessel is said to be the first all-electric commuter aircraft, built to make air travel an affordable, sustainable alternative for everyone’s regional transport. The 'Alice' is currently going through testing and hopes to fly by 2022. 

 

Is The Future Of Flying Electric? Is The Future Of Flying Electric?

 

magniX

magniX doesn't manufacture whole planes but makes electric motors for propellers systems for electric planes, which is a key component for smaller aircrafts.

"Our innovative technologies are making flight cleaner, lower-cost and more accessible. We are working to connect communities by enabling every person in the world to fly, shaping the future of the aviation industry and changing how the world views transportation." - magniX

 

Is The Future Of Flying Electric? Is The Future Of Flying Electric?

 

Pipistrel

This Slovenian manufacturer specialises in light aircraft and has been working on electric aircraft for quite some time, flying its first electric two-seater in 2007. 

They're also making big moves in the industry this year becoming the first electric aeroplane to be certified by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, which means they are ready to move onto testing for commercial flights. 

"Pipistrel's battery-powered Velis Electro aircraft has become the world's first electric aeroplane to be awarded type certification by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The certification confirms that the Velis Electro is airworthy in its particular category of aircraft, and marks the clearing of a significant hurdle on its road towards commercial use." - www.intelligent-aerospace.com

Is The Future Of Flying Electric? Is The Future Of Flying Electric?

 

Ampaire

Ampaire's mission is to make flying more accessible to more people from more airports by developing electric aircraft that are less costly, safe, clean, and quiet.

The L.A. based company has ambitious plans to be the first to enter into commercial service. They were able to develop prototypes by retrofitting existing passenger aircrafts to accommodate new electric functions. 

Is The Future Of Flying Electric? Is The Future Of Flying Electric?

 

So when can you board a commercial flight powered by electricity? 

In June 2019, Uber announced they were working on something called 'Uber Elevate', an aerial ridesharing program with a focus on vertical take-off and landings to help reduce congestion in busy cities. The aircraft will, of course, be electric. Although, there is no definitive date for a long-haul flight, to know electric aviation will be available in our lifetime is nonetheless exciting! 

"Uber has today announced Australia as the first international market for Uber Air, with Melbourne being selected as the third official pilot city. Melbourne will join Dallas and Los Angeles as pilot cities for the program, with test flights due to start from 2020 and plans for commercial operations to commence from 2023." - uber.com

 

Is The Future Of Flying Electric? Is The Future Of Flying Electric?

 

What do you think of electric aircrafts? Would you be keen to be one of the first passengers? Let us know in the comments. 

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