Revolution.Aero Uplift: Emission impossible
In English football (soccer), all major finals are played at the national stadium, in Wembley, London. Recently, some 46,000 Sunderland Football Club fans travelled 270 miles south to watch their team play, some calling the season “mission impossible”.
One fan, James Jelly, made headlines, travelling to London via Menorca, Spain because it was cheaper than the train or bus.
He paid £23 ($29) for his four flights. A direct flight from Newcastle to London would have cost him £161.99 ($204).
“Here’s a crazy situation, where a football fan in Sunderland finds it cheaper to fly to London via Spain, than to take a train or domestic flight,” says Adam Twidell, Future Flight Strategy, OneSky.
One company that would love fly to Jelly direct is Eviation. It had one of its all-electric nine passenger, two crew Alice aircraft on display at last week’s European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva.
“Designs like the Alice will be perfectly placed for shorter regional routes, that are not commercially viable for traditional airlines. It requires significantly less energy to take off conventionally down a runway than it does vertically. So for longer trips than eVTOLs aren’t capable of, there is a gap in the market for conventional electric take-off,” says Twidell.
Diego Magrini, founder and CEO, aviowiki believes flight frequency from regional airports will be boosted by electric aviation. “Meaning the capability of doing more connections on shorter legs, that don’t make sense economically with conventional aircraft.
“Ultimately we have to look at the social aspect of flying. People want to be connected. The idea of reconnecting in a way that is cheap, flexible, convenient and fast will have a wider social benefit,” says Magrini. “We are expecting a lot more people to move to cities – a trend that is probably beneficial to reverse. But people are moving because they lack connection where they are.”
Magrini points to some extreme cases like islands, but also electric regional services would be just as useful in rural US or Canada, he says. Recent research suggests electrification has the potential to cut emissions on domestic flights by 2.7m tonnes in the UK alone.
“The beauty of electricity is that it is extremely versatile,” says Magrini. “So, in Pipistrel’s Velis for example, and in their hybrid aircraft, the powertrain is electric. That is probably not going to change in the next 100 years, but the technology that provides the electricity to that powertrain can be anything.”
Although you’d probably think twice about flying in it, if the technology to produce a nuclear fission reactor becomes compact enough to fit in an aircraft, you could have a nuclear turboprop. Today both batteries and hydrogen are available. “Electricity is so flexible it is just a matter of developing the right infrastructure and whatever the source will be, it will work,” adds Magrini.
Jelly’s trip was worth it. Sunderland won at Wembley for the first time since 1973. In 49 years, he won’t need to fly via Spain. It was also an electrifying performance by Sunderland.