News & Opinion | October 5, 2017 9:00 am

We’re Getting Closer to Hybrid Jets and Electric Air Travel

Zunum Aero is out to prove the sky does have limits

It’s no secret that established automakers like Ford, Cadillac and Ferrari are making moves to bring a range of electric-hybrid cars to roads across the U.S. within the next five years, if not sooner. 

And now, thanks to a startup backed by the venture capital arms of Boeing and JetBlue, it appears that the sky could be the next electric frontier.  

This week, Seattle-area startup Zunum Aero announced plans to bring a line of hybrid-electric jets to the skies by 2022. Powered by a pair of electric motors running on batteries that are similar to the ones used in Telsas, the 12-seat planes will be able to travel up to 700 miles with supplemental assistance from an on-board gas engine, according to the company.

In addition to the environmental advantages, these hybrid electric jets could have a favorable economic effect as the Zunum aircraft, which would have an operating expense of around $260 per hour, would be a prime way to service smaller regional airports. That, combined with a 340-MPH top speed, will get passengers where they want to go quicker for less.

“You have a business jet type travel experience, you walk on and off, perhaps without any security, you get to places a whole lot faster because you’re flying out of small airfield, and you’re not paying more than commercial economy,” Zunum CEO Ashish Kumar told TechCrunch.

The company is also developing a larger plane with room for 50 that will be “future-proofed” to handle tech updates. 

Here’s to friendlier, greener skies.