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These new, hyper-futuristic 'eCTOL' planes might be coming to an airport near you — here's when you might be riding in one

For a plane the size of the CX300, it would cost approximately $500-$700 to refuel, but for the CX300, it only costs about $20.

Aircraft eCTOL

Photo Credit: Beta

Electric cars like Teslas have become increasingly popular in recent years, and the aviation industry is no different — creating so-called "eCTOL planes" that run on electricity. 

The aviation company BETA Technologies has been working on developing eCTOL — electrically-powered conventional takeoff and landing aircraft. These developed from prototypes of the more advanced eVTOLs, which are electrically-powered planes that take off and land vertically instead of needing a runway, similar to a helicopter

BETA's eCTOL plane uses the same technology — identical batteries, airframe, and avionics — but with the exception that it does not have vertical take-off and landing technology

In the process of creating a prototype for eVTOL aircraft, BETA Technologies realized there was an interest in electrically-powered planes beyond just vertical takeoff and landing features. As a result, the company decided to get eCTOL planes, such as its CX300 model, certified as well.  

BETA now has both eVTOL and eCTOL crafts on their way to approval, but the CX300 eCTOL model will make it there first because it mimics conventional planes. And in preparation for that certification process to be complete, BETA Technologies has announced that it is accepting orders for the CX300

Why is this important? 

Both eVTOL and eCTOL aircraft operate using more affordable fuel while also addressing the aviation industry's major impact on rising global temperatures

Typical airplanes often run on kerosene-based fuel. For a plane the size of the CX300, it would cost approximately $500-$700 to refuel, but for the CX300, it only costs about $20, according to Axios

On top of that, when dirty energy-based jet fuel is burned, it releases planet-warming gases — all in all, aviation is responsible for about 3.5% of rising temperatures. But electrically powered planes such as the CX300 could produce almost 90% less of these harmful gases. 

For now, eCTOL and eVTOL aircraft will only be able to travel short distances. The batteries cannot hold enough charge to travel more than around 380 miles, but BETA Technologies is in the process of rolling out charging stations at more airports, making them a great option for short-distance travel

There is still a long way to go in finding cheaper, climate-friendly options for aircraft, but getting eCTOL planes certified and in the air is a huge first step.

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