Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

EasyJet hopes to fly electric planes within a decade

Could this plane soon be battery powered? Credit: PA

Holidaymakers could be flying on electric planes within the next 10 years, according to easyJet and a manufacturer it is working with.

The budget airline hopes to fly short-haul routes, such as London to Paris or Edinburgh to Bristol, using battery-propelled planes within the next decade.

Electric planes will reduce emissions and be up to 50% more quiet than current aircraft, as well as being 10% cheaper to buy and operate, according to manufacturers Wright Electric.

The US-based firm - which is working with several airlines around the world - believes this saving could be passed onto travellers.

It also believes that every short-haul flight could be zero-emissions in the next 20 years as the electricity could come from solar or wind.

The company has already built a two-seater prototype and is working on creating a fully electric plane within a decade, with capacities from 120 passengers upwards.

Wright Electric believes cheaper running costs could be passed on to travellers. Credit: PA

EasyJet Chief Executive Dame Carolyn McCall said that "for the first time" in her career, she could "envisage a future without jet fuel".

"It is now more a matter of when, not if, a short haul electric plane will fly."

While the company's chief commercial officer Peter Duffy said that changes in technology were causing "attitudes to shift" and "ambitions to change", creating "opportunities you didn't see".

Mr Duffy continued that easyJet's partnership with Wright Electric will help the manufacturer to understand what their planes need in order to be commercially successful, such as revenue management and maintenance requirements.

Jeffrey Engler, Wright Electric co-founder, said he wants to make flying "as clean and sustainable as possible".

The company is currently seeking to improve its batteries and make aircraft frames as efficient as possible for use with electric motors.

Conventional short-haul aircraft have one large jet engine underneath each wing, but electric planes would have several smaller motors.

Mr Engler added that "everybody thought it was impossible" when US president John F Kennedy declared in 1961 that America would put a man on the moon by the end of the decade.

"Setting a big goal allows people to try to reach it," he said.

"It's going to be very difficult. That's why we're starting now."