Regional air travel has long been the foundation driver for the airlines, however the costs of fuel and ever increasing tax structures have led many companies to rethink the future.
Enter Zunum, a startup company (backed by Boeing Horizon X and Jetblue’s tech venture arm) which has announced an aggressive plan to develop and fly hybrid electric aircraft on regional routes by 2020. Aircrafts will be limited in terms of distance initially, targeting 700 miles, but the potential for 1,000 is real and expected to follow within the decade. Sounds like they will build multiple versions from 10 seats to 50 seats depending on route and need.
Zunum Aero Planes are designed to provide lower cost, more efficient regional based air travel that could become a viable option for commuters…understanding that rail and highways systems are only going to worsen over next 50 years.
In terms of efficiency, electric drive systems (hybrids) hard targets including 40% minimum reduction in costs, 40 percent decrease in the overall travel time between spots on busy commuter corridors, 80% decreased emissions vs. purely gas powered regional jets and most importantly 75% drop in noise.