Easyjet on track to give electric aircraft their wings by 2027

Image credit: DT

Easyjet has said it’s on track to introduce electric aircraft into its regular services by 2027 after partner Wright Electric (WE) moved to the next stage of engine development.

WE is developing battery-propelled aircraft that will carry passengers for flights of under two hours duration. The new models will cut emissions, noise and fuel consumption in comparison to Easyjet’s current fleet.

The company has already produced a two-seater electric plane and is confident that a nine-seater will be ready to go next year. Its collaboration with Easyjet will ultimately see it produce much larger vehicles capable of seating up to 220 passengers.

“Electric flying is becoming a reality and we can now foresee a future that is not exclusively dependent on jet fuel,” said Easyjet CEO Johan Lundgren.

The low-cost airline wants electric planes that will fly routes of around 500km within the decade, which means it could use the aircraft on its London to Amsterdam flights, Europe’s second busiest route.

Other destinations such as Paris or Edinburgh would also be reachable from London within this range, although Southern France or Spain would still be out of bounds.

The airline is already targeting a 10 per cent cut in carbon emissions per passenger per kilometre by 2022 by using more fuel-efficient jets, such as the new Airbus A320neo.

An electric plane that would result in lower emissions, noise and travel costs would be very attractive to all airlines, given that jet fuel is one of their biggest costs and its price has risen sharply this year.

A number of other high-profile engineering companies are working on developing such an aircraft.

Zunum, backed by Boeing Co, will use an engine turbine from France’s Safran SA to power an electric motor for a hybrid plane, while Siemens has been working on developing electric motors for aircraft in collaboration with Airbus.

Wright has also filed a patent for a motor to be used in a larger aircraft and work is starting on a new design for an Easyjet-sized aircraft, Easyjet said in its statement.

In 2016, the airline announced trials of a hybrid plane that holds a hydrogen fuel cell stowed in the aircraft’s hold to capture energy from the landing gear brakes. 

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