The first electric planes have been in the pipeline short-hop regional flights

The first electric planes have been in the pipeline short-hop regional flights


2-seater Velis Electros are currently moving throughout Europe. Electric seaplanes are presently being tested on the coast of British Columbia, and larger aircraft are expected to arrive. Air Canada announced on September. 15th, 2022,, it would purchase 30 electric hybrid regional aircraft through the Swedish firm Heart Aerospace, which expects to have its 30-seater aircraft in operation in 2028. Analysts from the U.S. National Renewable Energy Lab observe that the first electric hybrid 50-70-seat passenger plane could be available quickly. The 2030s are when, according to them,, electric aviation will likely begin to take off.

It is crucial to manage the effects of climate change. About 3 percent of global emissions are caused by aviation, and with the increase in passengers and flights with the increase in population, aviation may produce up to five times the amount of carbon dioxide emissions in 2050 than it did before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Assistant professor and aerospace engineer Gokcin Cinar develops sustainable aviation ideas, such as hybrid electric aircraft and hydrogen fuel alternatives, at the University of Michigan. We talked to her about the best methods to reduce aviation emissions and the direction that technologies like hydrogen and electrification are headed.

Why is it that aviation is so challenging to electrify?

Aircraft are among the most complicated vehicles on the market. However, the most significant issue for electrifying them is their battery’s weight.

If you were to electrify a 737 today with modern batteries, you’d have to remove all passengers and cargo, take the space, and fill it with batteries to fly for less than an hour.

Jet fuel can store around 50 % more power than batteries’ battery capacity per unit. Therefore, you can have one pound of jet fuel and 50 kilograms of batteries. To bridge the gap, we must either reduce the weight of lithium-ion batteries or develop new batteries that will hold more energy. Developing new batteries is underway. However, more is needed for airplanes.

Air Canada and United Airlines have ordered regional hybrid electric airplanes manufactured by Heart Aerospace that can go around 100 miles (200 kilometers) completely electric and 250 miles (400 kilometers) in hybrids. With a configuration of 25 passengers, Heart Aerospace claims that the hybrid distance will double. 

An alternative to electricity can be found in hybrids.

While we may not be able to fully electrify a 737, we can cancan benefit from fuel savings from the batteries of larger aircraft through the hybrid propulsion systems. We’re working to do this soon and have a 2030-2035 goal for smaller regional aircraft. The lower the fuel used in flight, the less greenhouse emission of carbon dioxide.

How can hybrid aviation help to reduce emissions?

Hybrid electric planes are like hybrid electric vehicles, utilizing batteries and aviation fuels. The issue is that no other industry is subject to the same weight limits that we do within the aviation industry.

This is why we must be cautious about how and to what extent we blend our propulsion system.

Utilizing batteries to assist during takeoffs and climbs is an appealing alternative. The idea of transferring to the runway with electricity alone could reduce fuel use and reduce local air pollution that airports generate. There’s an ideal balance between the battery’s additional mass and the amount of power you will need to reap the benefits of fuel savings. This optimization issue is at the heart of my study.

Hybrids continue to burn fuel during flight. However, it would be significantly less than entirely relying on jet fuel.

How could hybrid electric aviation be applied to large aircraft?

I envision hybridization as an option in the middle for larger jets and a future opportunity for smaller regional planes.

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