Electric Planes Are Taking Flight

Electric plane
Heart
Aerospace’s
ES-30,
a regional
electric
airplane
with
seats
for
30
passengers

Courtesy
of
Heart
Aerospace

As
convenient
as
flying
may
be,
air
travel
is

not
great
for
the
environment
—by

some
estimates
,
commercial
flights
alone
are
responsible
for
3
to
4
percent
of
all
greenhouse
gas
emissions
in
the
United
States.

But
electrifying
air
travel
is
one
way
to
reduce
the
sector’s
climate
impact.
And
though
experts
say
that
widespread
commercial
adoption
is
still
down
the
road,
battery-powered
planes
are
starting
to
gain
more
traction.

Last
week,
Air
Canada
became
the
latest
airline
to
commit
to
trying
the
new,
zero-emission
technology
by

ordering
30
battery-powered
passenger
aircraft

from
the
Sweden-based
Heart
Aerospace.

United
Airlines

and
regional
provider

Mesa
Airlines

each
ordered
100
of
the
company’s
planes
in
summer
last
year.

Airplane at sunset
Amid
increasing
pressure,
the
travel
industry
has
set
ambitious
goals
to
help
reduce
its
environmental
footprint.

Pixabay

For
now,
these
in-development
electric
planes
are
small,
with
room
for
up
to
just
30
passengers.
And
they
can’t
travel
far—Heart
Aerospace’s
plane,
powered
by
more
than
5
tons
of
onboard
lithium-ion
batteries,
can
only
fly
124
miles
on
one
charge.
But,
with
help
from
a
fuel-powered
generator,
it
can
expand
its
range
to nearly
500
miles,
reports
the


Washington
Post
’s
Pranshu
Verma.
But
even
that
so-called
“hybrid
mode”
would
still
produce
50
percent
fewer
emissions
than
standard
planes.
These
electric
aircraft
would
also
be
much
quieter,
Heart
Aerospace
executives
say.

The
Swedish
company
says
its
planes
could
be
ready
as
early
as
2028,
but
the
vehicles
will
need
to
pass
an
array
of
regulatory
hurdles
before
they
can
take
flight.

Airlines—and
the
travel
industry
as
a
whole—have

come
under
fire
 for
their

environmental
impacts
.
And
they’re
responding
with
ambitious
targets
and
plans.
United,
for
example,
has
pledged
to

reduce
emissions

by
100
percent
by
2050
through
a
combination
of
cleaner
fuel
and
carbon
offsets,
while
countries
like

Denmark

and
Sweden
have
set
goals
to
stop
using
fossil
fuels
for
domestic
flights
by
the
end
of
this
decade.
Cruise
lines
have
also
vowed to
take
action
on
climate,
with
companies
like
Hurtigruten
Norway
pledging
to
launch
the
first zero-emissions
passenger
ship
 by
2030.
Trains,
too,
are
becoming
greener:
The
German
state
of
Lower
Saxony
recently
rolled
out
its
first
fleet
of
passenger
trains
that
run

entirely
on
hydrogen
.

MS Nordnorge
Hurtigruten
Norway
plans
to
launch
its
first
zero-emission
ship
by
2030.

Courtesy
of
Fabrice
Milochau
/
Hurtigruten
Norway

Airline
leaders
say
they
plan
to
use
the
initial
batch
of
electric
planes
for
short,
urban
commuter
routes,
including
those
they
previously
discontinued
because
they
were
too
expensive
to
keep
running.

Many
also
view
the
small
electric
planes
as
an
important
first
step
toward
scalable
green
travel
technologies.

“We
don’t
want
to
wait
for
50
seats,
75
seats,
125-seat
aircraft,”
said
Mike
Leskinen,
president
of
United
Airlines
Ventures,
to


Reuters

Allison
Lampert
last
year. “We
want
to
get
involved
now
by
investing
in
a
company
that
we
think
has
a
big
technological
lead
with
the
hopes
of,
over
time,
working
with
them
to
move
the
size
of
the
aircraft
to
larger
gauge.”

Larger-capacity
electric
planes
are
also
in
the
pipeline
and
could
take
to
the
skies
within
the
next
decade.
Los
Angeles-based
Wright
Electric,
for
instance,
is
developing
a
186-seat
commercial
jet
with
an
800-mile
range
that
executives
say
will
be
available
starting
in
2030;
the
company
is
also
working
on
an
electric
100-seat
plane
that’s

due
out
in
2027
.

Airplane on runway
Battery-powered
planes
are
just
one
of
the
many
innovations
in
development
to
make
air
travel
greener.

Pexels

Still,
without
major
advancements
in

battery
technology
,
building
electric
planes
that
can
hold
hundreds
of
passengers
and
travel
thousands
of
miles
will
be
a
big
technical
challenge.
In
the
meantime,
airlines
are
also
turning
to

more
sustainable
fuels
,

carbon
offsets

and
other
innovations
to
reduce
their
impacts
now
and
into
the
future,
when
air
travel
demand
and
emissions
are
both

projected
to
increase

(despite
the
Covid-19
pandemic
’s
toll
on
airlines).

“We
must
do
everything
we
can
to
make
future
aviation
environmentally
sustainable,”
writes

Gökçin
Çınar
,
an
aerospace
engineer
at
the
University
of
Michigan,
for


The
Conversation
.

Artikel ini diambil dari https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/electric-planes-are-taking-flight-180980821/

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