Saturday, September 23, 2023

This stops electric planes from taking off

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The company plans to start in niche markets, such as hopping across fjords in Scandinavia. These routes are difficult to replace with land transport and in some countries, such as Norway, they could be subsidized by the government.

Forslund says these trips are just the beginning, however, and the goal is to expand regional flying globally. Even with current battery technology, the company claims, its planes could fly about 400 kilometers or 250 miles. That’s roughly the distance between New York City and Boston or Paris and London.

The battery requirements to fly even these short trips are quite significant. Heart’s 19-seat aircraft will carry approximately 3.5 tons of batteries, for a combined capacity comparable to that of eight to 10 electric vehicles.

Wright Electric, a US-based startup, is aiming for even bigger planes. The company, which plans to equip 100-seat aircraft with short-haul batteries, also expects to fly by 2026.


Some in the industry are skeptical that such aircraft could be successful without major improvements to batteries. “The battery technology just isn’t there yet,” says Mukhopadhaya.

In a recent report through the ICCT, Mukhopadhaya and his colleagues found that the range of electric aircraft would be severely limited with existing energy storage technology. “Honestly, we were surprised by how terrible the range was,” he says.

Using estimates for current battery density and aircraft weight limitations, the analysts estimate that 19-seat battery-powered aircraft would have a maximum cruise range of approximately 260 km (160 miles), significantly less than the company’s claim of 250 miles.

Forslund argues that estimates from outside observers do not give a true and fair view of the company’s technology because they are unaware of details about the battery pack and aircraft design. (The company plans to design its own aircraft rather than modifying an existing model to run on batteries.)

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