Seattle-based Zunum Aero expects to bring hybrid-electric aircraft to
market in 2022.
The company, which is backed by the innovation arms of
Boeing and JetBlue, said its initial aircraft will seat up to 12 people and
will reduce emissions and noise by 80% compared with similar-sized planes.
The aircraft will have a range of 700 miles and will be
powered primarily by electric batteries. The batteries will be boosted by a
fuel-powered generator to increase range.
Zunum stressed that its goal is to disrupt short-haul air
travel in the U.S., flying out of small, little-used airports and reducing travel
time compared with existing regional flight options.
The hybrid plane requires 40% less runway length than today's
regional aircraft, Zunum said. That, coupled with noise reduction, could open
the plane up to 5,000 under-utilized U.S. airports.
Since more flyers could access airports close to their homes
and because they would spend less time navigating smaller airports, their
travel time would be reduced, Zunum said.
"This aircraft is going to transform how we live and
work," Zunum founder Matt Knapp said. "We've pushed ourselves to
challenge conventional wisdom and the limits of engineering to deliver an
aircraft of which we are extremely proud -- one that offers efficiency and
performance without compromise."