(USA)

A pioneering startup is planning a shake up of the regional travel system in America using hybrid-electric aircrafts.

Zunum Aero’s 10 – 50 seaters would slash emissions by 80% – and eventually to zero once battery densities improve further – as well as price. It would also open up air travel to millions by utilising the thousands of underused airports which exist in more remote areas of the US – cutting door-to-door travel times by up to 80% compared to current flight options.

“The shift of the industry to large aircraft and long ranges driven by gas turbines has concentrated almost all air traffic to just 2% of our airports, creating a massive transport gap over regional distances where there is no high-speed alternative. As a result, door-to-door times for most journeys are no better than they were 50 years ago,” said Ashish Kumar, CEO and founder, Zunum Aero. “Hybrid propulsion is an industry-changing solution, enabling mid-sized aircraft on regional routes to have better cost efficiencies than airliners.”

Backed by aviation giant Boeing – through its HorizonX program developed to drive new innovations in aviation – and JetBlue Technology Ventures, the planes are expected to take off in the early 2020s.

The flights would initially fly 700 miles and by 2030 would be able to travel 1,000 miles. They will offer an alternative to high speed rail and reduce the need for an offer reliance on cars.