The company behind the claim is Wright Electric and they hope that by cutting fuel out of the equation for powering jet planes, that costs of flight will plummet dramatically. While the initial aim is to fly between England and France, the company’s website casts a wider net:
Wright Electric’s goal is for every short flight to be electric within 20 years. Our first plane is an airliner designed for flights like New York-Boston, London-Paris, and Seoul-Jeju.
Before such a flight is realized its important to note that the aircraft required to transport passengers between France and England (or vice versa) has yet to be built. The model is for a new type of aircraft capable of carrying 150 people. With the technological blueprint the plane wold have the capacity to traverse a distance of up to 300 miles.
Not only is Wright Electric planning to build an aircraft for its own experimental tests, major airline companies are starting to show an interest. An example, according to the BBC, is low-cost airline Easyjet, which has expressed its interest in the technology.
The major obstacle to the vision of electric flight transcending into reality is, as with many innovations, the limitations of battery technology. With the electric plane the developmental question is: can an aircraft be build in enough power to give the plane the range it needs?
Industry commentator Graham Warwick, who edits the magazine Aviation Weekly, said with regard to the required technology: “It’s projected to come but it needs a significant improvement. Nobody thinks that is going to happen anytime soon. And there’s all the [safety] certification – those rules are yet to be created, and that takes time.”
Meanwhile Wright Electric is continuing to work on the airplane design with U.S. inventor Chip Yates. As well as designing an aircraft that will be cheaper to run, the company indicates there are other advantages including a lower environmental impact and less noise pollution.