Electric Planes May Not Work

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New batteries and engines may help electric planes become commercially viable. But, those advances may be far enough off that the hope of aircraft that can carry over 100 people for any distance beyond 200 miles can’t be part of the electric plane industry’s near-term achievements. Nor are they likely to be.

EV ProblemsNo Demand

EV ProblemsHigh Prices

A recent article at Axios says air taxis could be available next year. However, these would only carry a few passengers for short distances. With current technology, extending the range and powering heavier planes has proved nearly impossible. 

The federal government is doing nothing to help. It recently announced a series of $15 million grants. Twelve groups each get that sum to build an electric plane that can carry 100 people 1,000 miles. They will not get $15 million each. The $15 million will be split among them. Based on R&D necessities, more money is needed per organization. 

The Axios analysis concludes that scientists and engineers are trying to reinvent the “electric machine.”

An analysis in the MIT Technology Review is even more pessimistic. “Today’s batteries don’t have the energy density necessary to power anything but the lightest planes. And even for those, the trip will be about as far as a long bike ride. “

Rolls Royce, one of the greatest engine makers in history, has abandoned an attempt to build an electric plane. As the company announced plans to exit the electric engine sector, the Guardian explained, “The strategy represents Rolls-Royce doubling down on jet engines burning kerosene as the future of passenger flight, rather than electric technology that is increasingly focused on shorter journeys.” 

In the end, as the hybrid car has become more popular in recent months and EV sales have faded, the same may happen to the path to lower emission aircraft.

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