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

Zunum Aero is out to prove the sky does have limits

October 5, 2017 9:00 am

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.

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