A Seattle-area startup backed by the venture arms of Boeing and JetBlue Airways plans to bring a small hybrid-electric airliner to market by 2022 that can dramatically reduce the travel time and cost of trips under 1,000 miles. Electric-vehicle batteries such as those made by Tesla Inc and Panasonic Corp would power the motor.
A supplemental gas engine and electrical generator would be used to give the plane a range of 700 miles, Matt Knapp, co-founder and chief aeronautic engineer of the Kirkland the Washington-based company said in an interview. The first of several aircraft planned by Zunum Aero would seat up to 12 passengers and be powered by two electric motors.
The Starc-ABL single-aisle turbo-electric aircraft with an aft boundary layer propulsor is the new test proposal that builds upon previous N3-X team hybrid designs and Boeing’s concepts for turbo-electric airliners research was done under the joint Boeing-backs venture the Sugar Program.
The plane would cut travel time by allowing passengers to fly from thousands of regional airports avoiding big hubs used by major airlines and airport security required for larger planes. About 96 percent of U.S. air traffic travels through 1 percent of its airports Zunum said.