EasyJet, the British-based budget airline, has pledged to develop a fleet of electric planes to cover short-haul routes by 2030, which would effectively reduce carbon emissions and noise from its operations.
The no-frills carrier is in partnership with US-based manufacturer Wright Electric to build battery-propelled jets for flights of less than two hours.
Founded in 2016, Wright Electric already has a two-seater electric plane and plans to begin flying a nine-seater next year. It has now applied for a patent on a motor for an electric airliner.
If successful, such an aircraft could be used on popular routes — or electric “flyways,” as easyJet refers to them — such as London to Amsterdam.
The technological advancement is “moving fast,” according to the airline’s chief executive, Johan Lundgren.
Speaking from Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, he said: “From the two-seater aircraft, which is already flying, to the nine-seater, which will fly next year, electric flying is becoming a reality and we can now foresee a future that is not exclusively dependent on jet fuel.
“The target range of the electric plane is around 500 kilometers, which, within our current route portfolio, would mean a route like Amsterdam to London could become the first electric ‘flyway.'”
Quieter and cheaper
Wright Electric predicts electric planes will be up to 50% quieter and 10% cheaper than traditional aircraft for airlines to buy and operate.
CEO Jeffrey Engler said: “We are excited about what the next year holds. EasyJet has been a fantastic partner and we look forward to helping introduce low-emissions, low-noise aviation, to Europe.
Given the continuing rise in the price of jet fuel, many airlines would welcome a way to cut emissions, noise and travel costs.
As such, several high-profile engineering companies are also working on electric aircraft. Zunum, backed by Boeing, will use an engine turbine from France’s Safran to power an electric motor for a hybrid plane, while Siemens has been working on developing electric motors for aircraft in collaboration with Airbus.