We Could be Only Two Years Away from Having Electric Commercial Airplanes

In a world marked by ever-changing technologies, it is difficult to identify those advancements that are truly unique. That said, there are those discoveries and creations that only come a few times in a generation and are undeniably revolutionary. One such advancement was announced this week: electric planes. A group of European companies has commenced the process of developing airplanes that run on electricity. The first hybrid electric test plane of this kind is expected in 2020.
The project for creating this hybrid electric test plane has been dubbed E-Fan X and is a collaboration between Rolls-Royce, Airbus, and Siemens. Rather than build a new aircraft from scratch, the trio will first use a modified four-engine aircraft. The goal of the project is to replace at least two of the plane’s four fuel-driven engines with two two megawatt electric motors. The various aspects of production needed to complete the project will be divided between the three companies based on their individual strengths.
Should the project be successful, we could see commercial flights employing the same electric technology on a wide scale within the next seven to eight years. However, an electric future for commercial airlines could arrive even earlier as there are other large players also actively exploring the concept. Another collaborative effort between industry giant Boeing and Bluejet hopes to an electric test plane flying by 2022.
Electric airplanes would be greatly beneficial to the environment. While fuel emissions from airplanes are not discussed as much as with cares or ships, they still contribute towards the pollution of the environment. In fact, it is estimated that commercial airlines contribute as much as two percent of the carbon emissions that currently contribute towards climate change. Consequently, by cutting out the need for fuel, the proposed electric planes would reduce emissions and by extension levels of environmental pollution. The invention would also make economic sense as fuel is consistently reported as one of the main costs for airlines.