From commuting in air taxis to making regional flights more affordable and long-haul flights more environmentally friendly, electric planes hold a lot of promise. Right now, more than 200 start-ups are working on building some sort of electric aircraft, according to Bob Buddecke, the vice president of power systems for Honeywell Aerospace.
So as electric cars finally begin to gain popularity, why are planes so far behind?
Some small electric planes have completed test flights, but most of the focus is on hybrid planes, especially for higher capacity long distance flights. That’s because batteries are still far heavier and less efficient than jet fuel — and the heavy regulation that surrounds air travel needs time to catch up.
NASA is partnering with the FAA to come up with certification standards and make electric flight a reality. Until then, companies like Uber are partnering with electric flight start-ups to experiment with air taxis and what’s known as vertical takeoff and landing aircraft.
Watch the video to learn more about how close we are to a future with electric planes, and why we aren’t there yet.