Stay on target
While there’s a lot of ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, people don’t often look to airlines as a place where we can still make improvements. After all, while some planes can go through gallons of fuel per second, they’re also many times more efficient. As a result, it’s often far worse to drive than it is to fly — plus you spend less time getting there. Despite that, there’s still a lot of gains to make. Just a few years ago we learned that winglets, small pieces of airplane’s wing that stick up vertically, can dramatically cut down on fuel use, for example.
But one start-up, Zunum Aero, wants to start bringing hybrid and even fully electric jets into the equation. The Washington-based firm will focus on small regional jets that serve high-traffic, short-haul routes like LA to San Francisco. By cutting out some of the major operating costs and focusing on small aircraft, Zunum will be able to avoid the TSA and FAA regulations that drive up the costs of flights on larger craft.
The company is already hard at work on their first plane. By the early 2020s, the company should have a fleet of 10-passenger hybrid-electric jets. And, according to the Verge, but the 2030s Zunum could have all-electric 50-passenger jets.
“We’re entering the golden era where we’ll have high-speed links to every community on the backs of quiet, sustainable hybrid-electric technology,” CEO Ashish Kumar told Verge. “And that’s going to happen really fast.”
With Kumar’s experience at tech giants like Google and Microsoft, as well as backing from aviation giants like Boeing, Zunum’s future may be a bright one. The hope is that the general business model will help offset the costs of the technology and help bring massive reductions in flight costs for Zunum-supplied routes. Kumar hopes that this will lead to a revolution in high-speed, short-range, cheap and environmentally conscious air travel.