The Wright One Jet Electric

How to make easy headlines with a jet electric

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The Wright One jet electric, in dream form

There is nothing not to like about an all electric short haul 150 seat jet providing emissions free flight within 10 years, apart from the chasm between concept and entry into service.

Such a proposal, claiming the ‘interest’ of the large and very successful low cost Euro carrier easyJet, is today racking up easy media exposure like this, on the BBC.

But we have to be more careful in getting worked up about this than is invariably the case with similar concept stories (with a 50 year history of not happening) for incredibly fast flights between Australia and London, and so forth.

As the fine print makes clear, the technology doesn’t exist on the scale, power output and reliability required. It will of course, come to pass, and the impetus for it will almost certainly arise from the success of new battery technology which is already radically changing the outlooks for electric cars and credible renewable energy storage as the world dumps fossil fuel power generation.

The regulatory environment which will define the standards required for this electric airliner’s certification doesn’t exist as yet on the required scale, but Airbus for example is making real world progress with smaller electric aircraft.

The capital expenditure and skills demanded of such a project are almost certainly only within the reach of enterprises that currently have the sources of funding and human resources which financiers and governments would respect.

Meaning Airbus and Boeing in the west, and COMAC, which has its own challenges in China, as an important but risky example of potential developers in the rest of the world.

These sorts of ambitions are highly desirable from a technological and environmental point of view but they need more than a good presentation at the Y Combinator Demo Day at Mountain View in California.

If breathless media reporting of such ‘dreams’ were an order of magnitude tougher on the delivery challenges of such concepts, it might help them become real much sooner than will otherwise be the case.

The world does need a Wright One, rightly done.

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