Hybrid-electric plane to show up by 2022

Posted on by Suman Karki

It is time to forget electric car because Zunum Aero (a start-up based in suburban Seattle) is trying to introduce hybrid-electric commuter plane by 2022. Zunum Aero is the team of dreamers, engineers and pilots who are working on access to high speed travel.

CEO of Zunum Aero Mr. Ashish Kumar said, “By the time this aircraft is in the air in early 2020 everyone will have ridden in an electric car or ridden in an electric bus.” The company is sure that the hybrid electric plane will be ideal choice for the public, charter plane operators and companies seeking for corporate jets.

The official confirmation of the cost of hybrid-electric plane is yet to be disclosed however, the first Zunum Aero is likely to cost at the range of $3 million. While Zunum was started in 2013, it’s just starting to share details about its first plane. The hybrid electric jet will seat up to 12 people, fly up to 700 miles and have operating costs of 8 cents per seat mile, below the operating costs of small turboprops and business jets powered by jet fuel.

The company claims that their operating costs will be 60-90 percent less than that of comparable turboprops and business jets.

Despite the hybrid electric and full electric vehicles being popular, aviation industry is yet to cope up e-planes because of the weight and cost of lithium-ion battery packs. Kumar says the world of aviation is ready for a new propulsion system that he estimates will have 80 percent lower emissions and be dramatically quieter than comparable planes.

The Hybrid-electric plane is set to fly solely on battery power with only one pilot and cruise at about 340 miles an hour at altitudes of about 25,000 feet.

The motor which Zunum is designing will drive a fan similar to the bypass fan on a jet engine, but without a jet’s combustion. Zunum has started talks with plane makers about building the airframe, and it is building non-flying prototypes of the power train to test batteries, the electrical system, software and other components.

Current battery technology can only power the plane for about 100 miles so a gas-powered engine would be used to generate electricity to power the motors for additional range

 

About the Author
Suman Karki

An Aviation Enthusiast working with Aviation Nepal.