Economy

EasyJet 'could be flying electric planes within a decade'

EasyJet 'could be flying electric planes within a decade'”

The UK carrier has formed a partnership with USA firm Wright Electric, which is developing a battery-propelled aircraft for flights under two hours.

United Kingdom budget carrier EasyJet is collaborating with US-based manufacturer Wright Electric with the ambition of bringing to market within the next decade an all-electric airliner with a range of 291nm (540km). "It is now more a matter of when, not if, a short-haul electric [aircraft] will fly".

While Wright Electric is trying to create this new technology, EasyJet will also have a productive role in the process, advising the U.S. company on what their planes will need in order to be commercially successful - including factors such as maintenance costs and revenue management.

Popular journeys including London to Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Cologne, Glasgow and Edinburgh could all be serviced by an electric jet under the bold new plans.

Carolyn McCall, easyJet's chief executive, said the aerospace industry would follow the lead of the automotive industry in developing electric engines that would cut emissions and noise.

Wright Electric has already produced a two-seat proof-of-concept version of the aircraft and believes the battery technology can be successfully scaled up without incurring a significant weight penalty. "You're seeing cities and countries starting to talk about banning diesel combustion engines".

Jeff Engler, founder of Wright Electric, said EasyJet's insights had helped develop the firm's ambition to "commercialise our aircraft for the large and growing short-haul flight markets". "This is genuinely exciting".

Electric planes could be a game changer for airlines, because fuel is one of their biggest costs.

Its first plane is designed for flights such as London to Paris, Seoul to Jeju and NY to Boston, and it wants to make all short-haul flights electric-powered within the next 20 years.

More specifically, Wright Electric claims that electric planes will be 50 percent more quiet and 10 percent cheaper than traditional airplanes, and the cost savings will potentially pass on to the passengers. But Wright and EasyJet are anticipating improvements in battery technology will make the batteries they need possible within ten years.

However, exact details about the battery-powered plane have not been revealed so far. It's about when it's going to happen, not whether it's going to happen, "McCall said".



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