Zunum Aero to Develop Hybrid-Electric Airplanes

Look out easyJet. Following recent news of easyJet and Wright Electric’s development of the first electric commercial airplane, Zunum Aero has also emerged with an ambitious plan to deliver regional hybrid-electric airplanes by the early 2020s.

In collaboration with Boeing and JetBlue Technology Ventures, Zunum Aero is working aggressively to build a new regional electrified air network. Its hopes are for greater flexibility over the traditional highway and train options while improving door-to-door times for smaller communities susceptible to unfavorable air routes, higher fares, and little proximity to large airports.

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

SEE ALSO: EasyJet Planning Electric Planes In the Next Decade

Official specifications include a max cruise speed of 340 mph, a 700-plus mile maximum range, a max altitude of 25,000 feet, and a rate of climb of 1,600 feet per minute. Seating is for 12 economy, nine premium, and six in executive models. Operational costs are expected to clock in at eight cents per seat mile or $250 an hour.

According to Zunum Aero, the new airplanes are created to meet four goals: fast regional transit, improved airliner economics, low emissions, and best-in-class safety. More rapid regional transportation calls for the increased use of underutilized regional airports over larger airport hubs, citing the statistic that 140 airport hubs carry more than 97 percent of all traffic, creating isolated communities with little travel options. Low emissions and cabin noise will see an 80 percent and 20 percent cut, respectively, with fares expected to drop between 40 and 80 percent.


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