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EasyJet unveils short-haul electric aircraft ambition

UK budget carrier EasyJet is collaborating with US-based manufacturer Wright Electric with the ambition of bringing to market within the next decade an all-electric airliner with a range of 291nm (540km).

EasyJet says such an aircraft would be able to transport 20% of its current passengers.

Wright Electric has already produced a two-seat proof-of-concept version of the aircraft and believes the battery technology can be successfully scaled up without incurring a significant weight penalty.

Although the cells in the two-seater weigh around 272kg (600lb), Wright Electric says it will use "new energy storage chemistries" that are "substantially lighter" than current batteries.

No details of the exact battery technology were immediately available, however.

The carrier says it has been working with the US firm to bring "an airline operator's perspective" to the project.

“We share an ambition with Wright Electric for a more sustainable aviation industry. Just as we have seen with the automotive industry, the aviation industry will be looking to electric technology to reduce our impact on the environment," states Carolyn McCall, chief executive of EasyJet.

"For the first time we can envisage a future without jet fuel and we are excited to be part of it. It is now more a matter of when, not if, a short-haul electric [aircraft] will fly."

EasyJet has a carbon emissions target of 72g per passenger-kilometre by 2022, a 10% reduction from its current performance.

It will additionally cut emissions through the deployment of a total of 100 Airbus A320neo-family aircraft and the use of electric tugs as well as "hydrogen technology" to power aircraft taxiing.

Wright Electric was founded in 2016 and has a target for all short-haul flights to be zero-emission within 20 years.

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