12-Seat Electric Hybrid Plane Set to Take to Skies by 2022

Admin Airplanes, Flex Air News

An electric plane from the company Zunum Aero is being designed for shorter trips. The airplane is intended to provide low cost travel, with the company quoting the price from flying from New York to Boston as costing only $70. The plane can seat 12 people.

Zunum Aero has the financial support of Boeing and JetBlue. The plan is to have the 12-seat plane in the air by 2022. While the plane is primarily electrically powered, it is not fully electric and is considered a hybrid plane, using batteries and jet fuel to operate. The design of the aircraft hopes for more advanced battery technology—the fuel tank on the airplane can be removed or shrunk down. This paves the way for the plane to become completely electric powered.

The Zunum plane is designed to make trips of up to 700 miles. The aircraft itself can reach speeds of 340 miles per hour.

According to Zunum’s website, the company is looking to make airplane travel easier and more affordable. The company plans to use airports that do not get as much traffic as more popular hubs. Zunum Aero is located in Seattle, Washington.

“We are a land of towns and communities, many with airports, but few with regular air service. Our stock of 13,500 airports is the largest in the world, yet just 140 of the largest hubs carry over 97% of air traffic,” Zunum’s website states. “This has left many of us with long drives to catch a flight, while on shorter trips we skip air travel altogether. Communities without good air service also struggle to attract investment and create jobs.”

Ashish Kumar, the CEO and co-founder of Zunum, talked about what his company has to offer and the future of air travel.

“The shift of the industry to large aircraft, and long ranges driven by gas turbines has concentrated almost all air traffic to just two percent of our airports, creating a massive transport gap over regional distances where there is no high-speed alternative,” Kumar said. “As a result, door-to-door times for most journeys are no better than they were 50 years ago. Hybrid propulsion is an industry-changing solution, enabling mid-sized aircraft on regional routes to have better cost efficiencies than airliners.”

The exact amount Boeing and JetBlue have invested in the company was not disclosed. Steve Nordlund, the VP of strategy for Boeing, talked about what Zunum offers.

“Boeing is investing in Zunum because we feel its technology development is leading this emerging and exciting hybrid-electric market space,” Nordlund said. “This technology and customer approach has the potential to transform the market for small, short-haul aircraft that can use smaller regional airports.”

Zunum says the plane is capable of taking off on a runway of only 2,200 feet.

The plane can fly at an altitude of 25,000 feet and can climb 1,600 feet each minute. Zunum boasts the plane only costs $250 per hour to fly, which equates to 8 cents each mile per seat. The maximum takeoff weight is 11,500 pounds and the aircraft can hold 800 pounds of fuel.

Zunum hopes to start conducting tests of the 12-seat plane by 2019.

In the future, the company hopes to produce larger planes that are capable of flying up to 1,000 miles.