Air travel makes up 3% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. Many startup airline companies are now considering electric aircraft as a more sustainable flight option. Although electric aircraft are not a new phenomenon (the first electronically powered flight was in 1883), there has been a considerable shift in the pace of new developments in this sector. One of such is Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) recent announcement of its planned launch of electric planes in Norway.

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A drive for sustainability | (c) Sergey Tinyakov

A Drive for Sustainability

With the issue of climate change and the environment at the forefront of many critical current discussions, the aviation industry has seen a real push towards making flying more environmentally sustainable. SAS, in particular, recognizes its contribution to climate pollution and has been striving to reach its short-term and long-term goals for climate-neutral air travel. As well as the airline’s implementation of the renewable energy source biofuel, 2019 saw SAS sign a declaration of intent to research the development of electric aircraft in partnership with aeroplane manufacturers Airbus. Since then, they have been working towards the use of electric planes for commercial flights and aim to be able to carry up to twenty passengers via battery-powered aircraft. Despite being in the initial stages, SAS has made massive progress toward achieving its goals.

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A rendering of the electric ES30 aircraft | (c) Heart Aerospace

Introducing the ES-30

After signing a letter of support with Swedish startup Heart Aerospace, SAS plans to add new electric aircraft ES-30 to their growing fleet, which could come to fruition by 2028. The ES-30 aircraft could significantly improve the airline’s global footprint, with it being capable of covering up to 200km using only electric power and up to 400km when combined with traditional fuel. 

The Pros

Regarding electric planes, perhaps the most significant advantage is their impact on the environment. Whilst fuel-powered aircraft produce harmful gases such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen and sulfur oxides, the battery-powered element of electric planes means no net-emissions. As well as this, electric planes produce less noise when taking off and landing meaning less noise pollution for those who live near an airport. The lower costs to maintain these types of planes could also lead to cheaper plane fares for prospective fliers, making travel more accessible.

The Cons

When dealing with new technological advancements, we must also consider the relevant obstacles that come with it too. Alongside electric air travel comes the issue of the batteries and the space and weight that they take up. As any added weight can affect the distance a plane can travel, companies must take caution when adding more power to a plane’s battery. Nevertheless, today’s industries offer constant new developments meaning that we are closer to using battery-powered commercial flights than we ever have been.

Let us know your thoughts on electric aircraft in the comments below! Will you be taking a flight onboard SAS once the aircraft enters service?

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