EasyJet Going Electric
UK airline easyJet has announced a deal with Wright Electric to help develop a short-haul passenger plane that will run on batteries.
The budget carrier hopes to have its first electric –powered planes in service within ten years, and aims to make its entire short-haul fleet battery driven within 20 years.
The aim is to develop an aircraft with a range of 335 miles, which would cover 20% of passengers flown by easyJet today.
Wright Electric has already demonstrated its first two-seater plane, revealing how the technology works on a smaller scale. Now, Wright Electric aims to prove the technology can be scaled to accommodate the needs of larger commercial aircraft. The main drawback is weight — the battery in the two-seater plane weighs approximately 600 lbs. However, when scaled up, Wright Electric will utilise new energy storage chemistries that are substantially lighter than today’s commercial batteries.
This is the latest step taken by easyJet to steadily decrease carbon emissions and reduce noise pollution. Since 2000, easyJet’s emissions have fallen by 31% from 116.2 grams to 79.98 grams per passenger kilometre in 2016. EasyJet has a carbon emissions target of 72 grams by 2022, which would be a 10% reduction from today’s performance and a 38% improvement from 2000.
To help achieve this target the airline is introducing the efficient A320neo and A321neo aircraft, while electric tugs and hydrogen technology to power aircraft taxiing will provide zero emissions and silent airfield operations. The new aircraft emit 15% fewer emissions then current planes, and are 50% quieter on take-off. The planned electric craft would of course be zero emission emitters.
Carolyn McCall, CEO of easyJet, commented: “We share an ambition with Wright Electric for a more sustainable aviation industry. Just as we have seen with the automotive industry, the aviation industry will be looking to electric technology to reduce our impact on the environment. For the first time we can envisage a future without jet fuel and we are excited to be part of it. It is now more a matter of when not if a short haul electric plane will fly.”
Wright Electric was founded in 2016 by a team of aerospace engineers, powertrain experts, and battery chemists, with the intent to reduce global warming via electric aviation. Wright Electric’s team comes from NASA, Boeing, and Cessna and have built planes worldwide across 12 type-certificates.
Photo courtesy of easyJet