British Energy Provider Looks To Launch A Renewable Energy Powered Airline

A new British hydrogen-electric airline wants to take to the skies as early as next year. Ecojet plans to launch in early 2024 starting with domestic flights, before a later expansion into Europe and beyond – let’s take a closer look below.

‘World’s first electric airline’ next year

Ecojet is being spearheaded by renewable energy firm Ecotricity’s founder Dale Vince, who wants to kickstart “the biggest revolution in the aviation industry since the invention of the jet engine” with emission-free commercial air travel. The prospective carrier will start off with 19-seater turboprop aircraft – adding 70-seater aircraft around 18 months later – that will eventually run on hydrogen-electric powertrains.

Vince said,

“Today we kickstarted a new revolution – with the launch of an electric airline. Yes, actual passenger-carrying planes powered by electricity.”

Vince has partnered with pilot Brent Smith and several other aviation specialists on the project and has set a launch date of early 2024 – its first route will be Edinburgh-Southampton, before an expansion to mainland Europe shortly after. Eventually, the airline hopes to operate long-haul flights should the technology to do so become available.

Ecojet is in the process of applying for an air operators license (AOC) from the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and is looking to secure slots at chosen airports. The Guardian adds that the airline will look to “price match” competitors and wants to attract a wider market of travelers, not just those with environmental leanings.

Hydrogen-electric retrofits

The airline will initially launch with jet fuel-powered aircraft to get operations up and running as quickly as possible, before retrofitting its fleet with hydrogen-electric powertrains in 2025, pending approval from the CAA.

Vince noted,

“It does feel like a contradiction, but at the heart of this project is upcycling existing planes and retrofitting them. This is the pragmatic approach, which means we won’t lose time. We will build up the infrastructure, get the planes in the air and swap in the engines when they are available.”

It says it will use old planes for this purpose, rather than new models, to save up to 90,000 tons of carbon per year. Its onboard hydrogen tanks will be filled up with sustainably-produced hydrogen, with its initial 19-seater fleet capable of flying up to 300 miles.

ZeroAvia over Sweden

Photo: ZeroAvia

Several start-ups, including the UK’s ZeroAvia, have tested hydrogen-electric flights in the last few years – ZeroAvia recently made a breakthrough during tests of its High Temperature Proton Exchange Membrane (HTPEM) systems using the 19-seater Dornier 228, which could be the same aircraft Ecojet has its eye on.

sustainable practices

Ecojet will incorporate an ethos of sustainability across the board – this includes environmentally-friendly uniforms, serving plant-based meals, and eliminator single-use plastics.

Founder Vince is well-known for his environmentalism and has made headlines recently due to his financial support for eco-movement Just Stop Oil.

What are your thoughts on Ecojet? Do you think the proposed airline will be able to operate emission-free flights by 2025? Let us know in the comments.

Source: The Guardian

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