Los Angeles-based start-up Wright Electric has a dream that within 20 years every short-haul service in the world will be flown by battery-powered aircraft.
UK budget airline EasyJet has bought in to this vision as part of its decarbonisation strategy. The pair are collaborating on a project to bring a 180-seat, all-electric airliner to market within the next decade.
However, the project is so far light on detail. No airframe partners are in place and the battery capabilities required do not yet exist.
Yes, technology advances swiftly, but it is questionable whether the pace of development will be fast enough to meet that 10-year target.
Across the hangar from where the partners made their announcement stood a new Airbus A320neo – one of 100 the carrier has ordered.
The Neo is a programme designed around adding new engines to an existing airframe, and yet it still took five years from launch to service entry.
An all-new aircraft with a previously uncertificated propulsion system is likely to take considerably longer to bring to market. And even if Wright Electric succeeds with the first part of its plan, a huge number of current-generation narrowbodies will still be in service 20 years from now.
Having an ambitious goal is one thing, investing your hopes in a pipe-dream is another thing entirely.
Source: Flight International