British inventors have revealed how it could look like the world’s “largest commercial hybrid aircraft”, operated with a combination of eco-friendly electricity and jet fuel.
The 70-seat aircraft is called HERA, which means regional hybrid electric aircraft. The total range of the aircraft is 920 miles, just over the distance from London to Rome.
However, inventors at Bristol-based Electric Aviation Group say improvements in battery technology could extend to 1,381 miles after 2030.
More importantly, the aircraft can carry 70 passengers, which is particularly difficult with a fully electric alternative, as larger batteries mean fewer passengers, given the extra size and weight.
By combining a lithium-ion battery (similar to those in smartphones and laptops) with normal jet fuel, it is possible to balance the sit-in of dozens of passengers.
“Significant investments have been made to develop hybrid and electric aircraft with sub-seats of less than 19 seats, which we are preparing as the wrong strategy,” said Kamran Iqbal, President of Electric Aviation Group. These small aircraft cannot meet the requirements of comprehensive air transport or decarbonization requirements.”
“Our design for the aircraft will initially provide 800 nautical miles at launch in 2028, which will be able to carry more than 70 people.”
The HERA is expected to be able to “reduce noise pollution” by up to 65%, and the aircraft’s developer team claims it will reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 90%.
Electric Aviation Group hopes to use the aircraft to transport passengers during the day, and then deliver goods at night, albeit “regionally”, because of its limited range.
The aircraft is still under development, but Electric Aviation Group claims to have filed 25 design patents.
The company says the hybrid aircraft could create more than 25,000 jobs and “open up $5 billion in investment” in the UK aviation industry.
This comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently commissioned UK aviation experts to create the world’s first zero-emission long-range aircraft, called Jet Zero.
However, the HERA is not completely zero-emission, due to the use of conventional jet fuel.
Current projections set the completion date of the project sometime in 2028.