New Delhi: Zunum Aero, a startup founded by a mechanical engineer from IIT-Delhi and based in Kirkland, Washington, said it is developing electric hybrid aircraft by early 2020s that could make flying much faster, easier than today.
The regional hybrid-electric aircraft, which will have 10 to 50 seats, are being developed with backing from Boeing's HorizonX innovation cell and JetBlue Technology Ventures.
Founder and CEO Ashish Kumar said that the company will first come out with a sub-20 seater hybrid aircraft.
“We hope to have the first prototype flying in two years and begin commercial production in early 2020s,” Kumar, a PhD in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Cornell University, was quoted as saying to TOI.
With three years into development, Zunum aims to build regional hybrid-electric aircraft whose range will go up to 1,600 km by 2030.
According to Kumar, Zunum's planes will be way cheaper for airlines to operate and will not go as high as commercial aircraft due to the distances they will be covering.
“While they will be slower than other planes, their ability to land at airstrips closer to final destination will significantly reduce door-to-door time for flyers," Kumar added.
Zunum claimed that the hybrid planes will cut emissions by 80%, falling to zero over time as battery densities improve.
Among many advantages that the hybrid aircraft will offer, it will also reduce community noise 75%, enabling all-hours access to smaller airports.
The planes will also sharply reduce operating costs, enabling ticket prices 40-80% below current fares, said the company founded in 2013.