Electric commercial airplanes are emerging technology that aims to replace traditional fossil fuel-powered engines with electric motors. These airplanes are powered by electricity, rather than jet fuel.
The integration of electric propulsion in airplanes presents a promising opportunity for the aviation industry, as it has the potential to significantly reduce operating costs for airlines, making air travel more affordable for passengers.
Electric Commercial Airplane Development
Companies and research organizations around the world are investing in the development of electric commercial airplanes, including Airbus, Boeing, Eviation, GE, Harbour Air Seaplanes, magniX, Rolls-Royce, and NASA. These organizations are working to create airplanes powered by electricity rather than traditional fossil fuels.
Electric propulsion systems currently being tested include battery-powered systems and hybrid systems that combine electric motors with traditional fossil fuel engines. Battery-powered systems use energy stored in batteries to power the electric motors, while hybrid systems use a combination of electricity and fossil fuels.
The development of electric commercial airplane technology is a gradual process, primarily due to the challenges engineers and researchers are currently facing. One of the most significant challenges is the limited range of electric propulsion systems, making it challenging to create electric airplanes that can fly long distances. The weight of energy storage systems, such as batteries, is still significant, which affects the aerodynamics and efficiency of the airplane. However, despite these challenges, progress is being made and the technology is expected to be brought to market mid 2020s.
Electric Commercial Airplane Projects
Specific electric commercial airplane projects that have gained attention include Eviation Alice, Harbour Air Seaplane. Eviation Alice is an all-electric regional aircraft that is designed to carry 9 passengers over a distance of 287 miles. Harbour Air, on the other hand, has been testing electric propulsion systems for their seaplanes, most of their routes are around 30 minuets or less.
Last year brought great progress to both of these projects. Eviation Alice had its inaugural flight, and surpassed $2 billion in global orders. Harbour Air completed its inaugural point-to-point flight, covering a distance of 45 miles in just 24 minutes.
Future of Electric Commercial Airplanes
The potential for electric commercial airplanes to become a viable alternative to traditional fossil fuel-powered airplanes is growing as more research and development is being done in this field. With the rise of concerns about climate change and the push for more sustainable forms of transportation, electric commercial airplanes could have a significant impact on the industry.
Advances in battery technology and electric propulsion systems could help to address some of the current challenges facing the development of electric commercial airplanes. For example, the development of more powerful and efficient batteries could extend the range of electric airplanes and make them more capable of completing long-distance flights.
In addition to traditional commercial aircraft routes electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircrafts are seen as the future of air transportation. They’re designed to take off and land vertically. With the advancements in electric propulsion technology, these aircrafts will be able to fly longer distances and carry more passengers, making them a viable option for urban air transportation. eVTOLs are nearing certification from the FAA. The deployment of eVTOLs is expected to start around 2024.
Despite the challenges, the future for electric commercial airplanes looks promising as more research and development continues in this field, however it’s not going to happen overnight. The aviation industry is slowly but surely moving towards more sustainable forms of transportation, and it will be interesting to see how electric commercial airplanes evolve and play a role in shaping the future of air travel_