Airplanes (along with helicopters) are by far the most heavily polluting form of travel that exist. But a new startup is attempting to develop a hybrid electric airplane that could begin to take this harmful industry in a less destructive direction.
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Maeve Aerospace, which has received financial backing from the Dutch government, is working on an 80-seater hybrid electric plane, which was originally called the Echelon 01 and later rebranded to the Maeve M80. The plane has gone through several redesigns. The current iteration includes an oval-shaped body and two hybrid-electric engines.
The company’s current plan is to begin deliveries by 2031, although that is subject to change depending on when the concept plane is ready, as well as regulatory approval.
While the Maeve M80, which will have an expected range of around 920 miles, would, according to the company, operate with a 40% reduction in fuel burn compared to other similarly sized aircrafts, it is important to note that it would still burn a large amount of fuel compared to other modes of transportation.
The least environmentally damaging form of transportation, measured by the amount of planet-overheating gases released per customer, remains trains (not counting walking and biking, both of which release no planet-overheating gases).
However, as it is unlikely that plane travel is going anywhere, it remains important that the industry seeks to reduce the amount of harm it does to our planet. In 2022, aviation accounted for 2% of all global carbon dioxide emissions, not even factoring in nitrous gases and particle pollution that planes produce. Hopefully, more technological advancements like those of Maeve Aerospace can begin to bring those numbers down.
“To my knowledge, there are currently no alternatives in development that are equally sustainable, cost effective, and match the operational needs of airlines and airports. If there are, I would applaud them, because we need more of these realistic solutions to become sustainable,” Maeve Aerospace CTO Martin Nuesseler said in a press release on the company’s website.
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