Let's face it: Fully electric car was total sci-fi just 15 years ago. And the fact that it could drive itself was totally unthinkable.

With that in mind, lets talk about next logical step: What needs to happen in order to have fully electric airliner in place?

In other words: I want to have an passenger airplane which is fully powered by electric power (batteries).

  • I am thinking about something "small to mid size", replacing current propeller airplanes which are in service for commercial Airlines
  • Such plane should be able to carry about 80 passengers plus luggage
  • Plane should operate on "commuter" lines, replacing current propeller planes

So what hurdles do we have to solve in order to have Average Joe to be able board fully electric plane in 2030?

  • $\begingroup$ Answering this question requires expertise you might find only on aviation.stackexchange.com $\endgroup$
    – Philipp
    Nov 10 '15 at 12:14
  • $\begingroup$ And has a dupe there: aviation.stackexchange.com/q/16980/609 $\endgroup$ Nov 10 '15 at 12:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Why "replace propeller planes"? You can drive a propeller just as well with an electric motor as you can with a kerosene motor. $\endgroup$
    – Philipp
    Nov 10 '15 at 12:16
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question because it is already answered on aviation stackexchange: aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/16980/… $\endgroup$
    – Philipp
    Nov 10 '15 at 12:19
  • $\begingroup$ Oops! Ok, voted to close on my own question. Seems like someone had the idea before me and I was not searching properly enough $\endgroup$ Nov 10 '15 at 12:20

One big problem is energy density: our best batteries don't even come close to the energy stored in a equal mass tank of jetfuel. As explained on Aviation.SE.

Also with a purely electric power source you don't shed weight as you are flying. This means that maximum landing weight cannot exceed maximum takeoff weight. Currently there can be a large gap between them where max landing weight is dictated by the strength of the landing gear and max takeoff partly by how fast you can stop should an engine fail on the runway and maneuverability in the air.

The next factor is turn around time, Batteries take ages to charge but this can be reduced by using pre-charged battery modules that get swapped out on the ground with the cargo.


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