Company to Release Hybrid-Electric Commercial Aircraft by 2022

Company to Release Hybrid-Electric Commercial Aircraft by 2022

Zunum Aero

Jazzed about cheaper, quieter flights with no humans in the cockpit? That’s the eventual goal of Zunum Aero, which hopes to revolutionize air travel and eliminate flight-based emissions starting in 2022.

By then, the Seattle-based startup plans to release a small hybrid-electric airliner, with the stated goal of delivering a 50-seat craft by the following decade. The initial entry, a 12-seater, would use two electric motors, plus a gas engine and electrical generator, for a max range of 700 miles (and at drastically reduced costs).

Eventually, Zunum would transition to all-electric, remotely-piloted aircraft, and as a society, we’ll have (hopefully) settled the avalanche of red tape and regulation headed in that general direction. Does the thought of empty cockpits give you agita? You’re not alone.

And while the initial craft would cruise at 340 miles an hour at altitudes of about 25,000 feet (7,600 meters) – slower and lower than standard jet aircraft – it’d be cheaper and faster than the alternative. According to Matt Knapp, Zunum’s co-founder and chief aeronautic engineer, flight costs would average out to 8 cents per seat-mile, 20% of what it costs to fly small jets or turboprop planes.

Theoretically, placing these craft at thousands of regional airports would also cut travel time – anyone forced to navigate major hubs knows the (grueling) nightmare it can be.

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