Aviation plays an important role in global economy – tourism, official business travels, importation and exportation of goods. However, it is also a significant contributor to air pollution that even with the utmost effort of improving aerodynamics, greenhouse gas emissions are still unmanageable because of the unprecedented increase in travels by air.
The efforts for reducing greenhouse gas emissions of land vehicles and factories will somehow alleviate global warming, but if the environmental impact of aviation is uncontrollable, then solving climate change might be arrested. This leads the aerospace industry, according to Carolyn Mccall, the CEO of the UK-based airline, EasyJet, to follow the path of automotive industry of developing electric engines that will reduce both gas emissions and noise.
Mccall said that in ten years, EasyJet could be offering electric airplane services. This is in partnership with the American company, Wright Electric, who had been working with many international airlines towards making all short flights fully fueled by electricity within 20 years. These short flights represent about 30 percent of all Europe flights.
In addition to zero emissions, Wright Electric asserts that the electric airplanes would generate 50% less noise and will even cut costs by 10%. The company has already been working on a real electric airplane that can carry up to 120 passengers on flights that are 300 miles maximum. In order to swap empty batteries with fully recharged units, they are planning to mount the batteries inside shipping containers. The batteries’ weights remain the biggest challenge to make electric airplanes commercial, but with the current pacing of the research industry in developing lightweight batteries, Wright Electric is hopeful that this issue will be surpassed within ten years.
“For the first time in my career I can envisage a future without jet fuel and we are excited to be part of it. It is now more a matter of when, not if, a short haul electric plane will fly,” said Mccall. EasyJet Executive Peter Duffy also expressed, “You’re seeing cities and countries starting to talk about banning diesel combustion engines. That would have been unthinkable just a short time ago. As technology moves on, attitudes shift, ambitions change, and you see opportunities you didn’t see. This is genuinely exciting.”