The Future of Air Travel Is Now

Photo: Boeing

Greener Skies

Smaller electric aircraft are already flying. They are at the prototype and demonstration stage, but could pave the way for short-haul, point-to-point air taxis and island hops. Currently, the technology to build an electric jumbo is not a reality, but there are workarounds.

As electric batteries get better, you can build something bigger than a Cessna 12-seater. But to see bigger electric aircraft in the air, a hybrid model is the way to go, and there are several ways to go about it.

You can use a jet engine as a generator to top up the battery while flying. You can also use the electric fans and a jet engine running at the same time for take off and throttle back or shut down the engines off during cruise. Another alternative is flying electric and using a fuel cell powered by hydrogen that can be stored on board. h has a much higher density.

Kilo for kilo, aviation fuel contains a hundred times more energy than a lithium battery. However, a jet engine is not very efficient at turning that fuel energy into work, basically creating lost heat. The fact is that jet engines are about 55% efficient at cruise and much less at take off.

An electric motor is 95% efficient or better and accrue lower operating and maintenance costs, do not break down and are over all simpler. All these factors make electric aircraft can make more competitive and that is before we get better batteries. A hybrid model powered by hydrogen will pave the way to pure electric aircraft.

AirbusZEROe Blended Wing Body Concept. Photo: Airbus.

Aircraft Manufacturers

With too many planes around the world and no takers, Boeing and Airbus have slashed production of aircraft and have cancelled plans to produce several new aircraft during this decade and will instead focus their efforts on creating a new generation of aircraft that will be hybrid or electric-powered in the 2030s.

This means that plane makers can skip a generation. This will allow them to not be worried about paying off the debts accrued in the 2030s from designing this stop-gap generation of planes because there will be no demand for them in the fuel years. Boeing, Airbus and the like will focus on new generation aircraft sooner than later. It is in their best interest to do so.

Photo: BOOM Supersonic


The airline industry is optimistic passenger demand will bounce back as it has in previous crises. This could entails not much will change in the coming years. However, the industry is at a point where it needs to leverage innovative technologies to be on the one hand more effective in its operations and on the other, less impactful on the environment.

In addition, mobility will continue to be essential for customers and long-haul flights will still take place. However, the current health crisis, climate change awareness and disruptive technologies will change flying in the next 15 years. So how will air travel be like in the near future?

First, more hybrid and electric planes will take to the skies. Current aircraft design that dates back to the 1950s will also become more eco-friendly, quieter and energy efficient. In addition, long-haul flights will become supersonic again.

Finally, before the decade is over, aircraft will not all be a tube with wings under which fossil-fuel-guzzling engines hang; they will be more aerodynamic, perhaps delta-shaped, with passenger-filled wings much like the German

MIAMI – What will the future of travel look like? How are airlines turning the crisis into an opportunity and what are companies doing to make flying greener? How are the pandemic and growing concern about climate change affecting attitudes to travel?

As The Economist points out, the five-year period before the pandemic was the only one since Orville and Wilbur Wright made their first flight in 1903 in which the industry covered its cost of capital. Burned again by COVID-19, many investors the likes of Warren Buffet have now decided to stay away from anything that flies. 

The forecast made in May read more ⇒

Source:: “Airways Magazine”

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