EasyJet plans electric planes by 2030

Fleet will cover short-haul routes

By LIANNE KOLIRIN
Copyright 2018 CNN

EasyJet

(CNN) - Passengers concerned about the impact of air travel on the environment could soon opt for a cleaner alternative.

EasyJet, the British-based budget airline, has pledged to develop a fleet of electric planes to cover short-haul routes by 2030, which would effectively reduce carbon emissions and noise from its operations.

The no-frills carrier is in partnership with US-based manufacturer Wright Electric to build battery-propelled jets for flights of less than two hours.

Founded in 2016, Wright Electric already has a two-seater electric plane and plans to begin flying a nine-seater next year. It has now applied for a patent on a motor for an electric airliner.

Electric 'flyways'

If successful, such an aircraft could be used on popular routes -- or electric "flyways," as easyJet refers to them -- such as London to Amsterdam.

The technological advancement is "moving fast," according to the airline's chief executive, Johan Lundgren.

Speaking from Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, he said: "From the two-seater aircraft, which is already flying, to the nine-seater, which will fly next year, electric flying is becoming a reality and we can now foresee a future that is not exclusively dependent on jet fuel.

"The target range of the electric plane is around 500 kilometers, which, within our current route portfolio, would mean a route like Amsterdam to London could become the first electric 'flyway.'"

Quieter and cheaper

Wright Electric predicts electric planes will be up to 50% quieter and 10% cheaper than traditional aircraft for airlines to buy and operate.

CEO Jeffrey Engler said: "We are excited about what the next year holds. EasyJet has been a fantastic partner and we look forward to helping introduce low-emissions, low-noise aviation, to Europe.

Given the continuing rise in the price of jet fuel, many airlines would welcome a way to cut emissions, noise and travel costs.

As such, several high-profile engineering companies are also working on electric aircraft. Zunum, backed by Boeing, will use an engine turbine from France's Safran to power an electric motor for a hybrid plane, while Siemens has been working on developing electric motors for aircraft in collaboration with Airbus.

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