Zunum Aero promises a hybrid-electric airplane for ~50 passengers for regional travels. The Kirkland, Washington–based company aims to make a $100 roundtrip flight between San Jose and Pasadena in California— about 350 miles.
The Zunum website strikes a common wish for anyone who travels by air. Claiming to offer a “Fast, affordable and everywhere” solution, it asks: “What if you could get to places much faster than you can today? What if flying cost a lot less than it does today? If thousands of communities were connected by air service? What if aircraft were quieter, with far lower emissions?”
The hybrid-electric airplane Zunum Aero aims to offer 10 to 50 seats by the early 2020s. Its regional aircraft are intended to reach 700 miles, and up to 1,000 miles of range by 2030. The company wants to address the biggest problems associated with modern-day flying, decreasing door-to-door travel times, reducing operating costs, cutting emissions by 80%, and also cutting community noise 75% with its associated benefits. Those benefits include 40% less travel time on less-trafficked corridors and 40% to 80% cheaper fares.
Looking at the electric flight industry’s main obstacles, the biggest challenges are with fast charging and engines that can operate in the 20,000 to 30,000 feet flight ceiling. The other obvious problem is associated with demand and manufacturing costs, something Zunum Aero hasn’t revealed much about yet. The company says it is now in the build phase of its journey.
As far as its engineering capabilities, Zunum Aero has worked for some time with the Center for Power Optimization of Electro-Thermal Systems, which is an NSF-sponsored research center from the University of Illinois. Also, the company has been working closely with the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) since 2014 and is now incremental to the certification standards for electric aircrafts expected to happen by 2018.
The electric propulsion is here to stay, writes Nicolas Zart on evobsession.com/
While the hybrid-electric airplane Zunum Aero might not challenge quickly short-flight air commuters, it could disrupt buses, slow US passenger trains, shared ride and taxi car services.
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