What is an E-plane ? Can its introduction make commercial air travel low-cost and environmentally friendly?

Published: December 13, 2019

The World’s first all-electric commercial aircraft completed a short flight after taking off from Vancouver, Canada.  The ePlane was operated by North America’s largest seaplane operator, Harbour Air and magniX, a company that builds propulsion systems for electric aircraft. The seaplace ran with a 750 HP propulsion producing zero emissions and covered a distance of 160 km over 15 minutes and is suitable for shorter trips. 

The aviation segment looks towards a massive disruption with low-cost, environmental friendly commercial electric air travel becoming a reality soon. The historic plane’s flight is the first step towards building the world’s first all-electric commercial fleet. It signifies the start of the third era in aviation, which is the electric age. 

While a traditional plane with turbine engines burns $300 worth of fuel, an aircraft with e-motor would consume electricity worth $10-$20 to fly 100 miles. 

Long distance air travel with zero-emissions – 

According to International Air Transport Association (IATA), air transport contributes around 2 percent of global man-made carbon dioxide emissions. 2017 witnessed about 859 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in  the atmosphere.

While existing technologies cannot help the aviation industry make significant reductions in emissions, there comes a need for electric and hybrid-electric systems. However, the technology is still some distance away for long distance air travel.

The world’s first fully-electric aircraft was developed by Airbus in 2010, followed by development of aircraft E-fan which crossed the English Channel in 2015. By 2021, Airbus looks to dive on electric propulsion with the aim of commercialisation of zero emission, all electric vehicles and large commercial aircraft. 

With the available technology a 100-passend aircrafts based on electric and hybrid-electronic technology will be able to fly by the 2030s.

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