Forget Electric Cars, Electric Planes are the Future

Travel News — By Carlo Alcos on April 12, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Could electric planes be the future of flying? It’s pretty damn hard to imagine a commercial flight between New York and London flying off of batteries alone. But it’s all about the baby steps and there are engineers all over the world working on greener technologies for airplanes.

Elektra launched its electric plane recently — the successful flight, manned by a solo pilot, lasted 30 minutes and used up half of the battery juice. Although the Elektra is pretty darn cool (as you can see in the video below), it’s not quite ready to be eligible for NASA’s CAFE Green Flight Challenge.


NASA’s competition calls on its competitors to design an airplane that can fly 200 miles within two hours, and run on the equivalent of one gallon of gasoline per occupant. Up for grabs is $1.2 million in prize money.The competition is set to run between July 11 and July 17 this year and will take place at the CAFE Foundation Flight Test Center at Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa, California. (And yes, the airport is named after the Peanut’s comic writer.)

Image: Roman Emin /Flickr

According to this Wired article from 2008, a report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Eurocontrol, the Manchester Metropolitan University, and QinetiQ, found that airplane CO2 emissions were 20% higher than previously thought. Its prediction of 1.5 billion tons of emission will be released by 2025, and that is significantly more than the worst-case scenario laid out by the International Panel on Climate Change.

At this rate, the increased emissions will surpass any gains made from greener technologies. Let’s hope the CAFE Green Flight Challenge is a step in the right direction.

Tags: air travel, Electric Cars, electric planes, elektra, environment, green

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