Will we soon be flying with electric aircrafts?

In road traffic, electrically powered means of transport are no longer a rarity. In air traffic, on the other hand, only very few people are likely to have come into contact with electrically powered aircraft. But they do exist.

There are currently around 3000 electrically operated commuter aircrafts in operation worldwide. German researchers have therefore been investigating the extent to which regular aircraft can be replaced by electrically operated ones.

As with electric vehicles, the greatest shortcoming of electric aircraft at present is probably their shorter range. The range of the above-mentioned aircraft is between 250 and 350 kilometres. This sounds like a short distance, but the cancelled.ch team has calculated which airports could be approached from Zurich:

  • Stuttgart (145 km)
  • Innsbruck (211 km)
  • Geneva (230 km)
  • Milan (204 km)
  • Frankfurt (285 km)
  • Munich (260 km)

In particular, there are numerous daily connections from Zurich to the major airports of Frankfurt (FRA), Munich (MUC) and Milan Malpensa (MXP), which could in principle be handled by such aircraft. Unfortunately, however, it is not yet possible for today’s aircraft manufacturers to build electric aircraft with more than 20 seats. As a result, they can carry about 4-5 times fewer passengers than the smallest aircraft currently in service at Lufthansa (86 seats, Bombardier CRJ900), Swiss (125 seats, Airbus A220-100) and Austrian (76 seats, Bombardier Q400).

Since each aircraft has certain fixed costs, considering for example the two pilots, and especially because slots are in limited supply today, cancelled.ch considers the use of such aircraft in Switzerland to be unrealistic.

On the other hand, if one considers the development leaps that electric vehicle manufacturers are making in advancing their technologies, it seems quite possible that in the future certain air routes will be covered by (partly) electrically powered aircraft. Incidentally, the share of CO2 emissions from all aviation in global CO2 emissions is currently less than 3 percent.


Image source: Background photo created by onlyyouqj – www.freepik.com

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