PHOTO: Boeing, JetBlue look to the future. (photo via Flickr/Pat Bell)
The future of airline travel is smaller, quieter and more efficient.
Business Insider reports Boeing and JetBlue have made a monetary splash in a startup that aims to completely change how consumers think of airline travel.
At the moment, our idea of flying is a noisy, congested affair. It means running through a packed airport to a gate where you queue up like cattle to ride in an enormous airplane that mandates listening to the roar of loud engines for a few hours at a time.
Enter Zunum Aero, which recently welcomed contributions from the venture capital outlets of both JetBlue Technology Ventures and Boeing HorizonX. Zunum Aero’s airplanes are described as powered by a hybrid propulsion system. Rather than have an engine power the majority of the flight, the report states these planes are designed for its battery to do the proverbial heavy lifting.
This being a hybrid system, there is indeed a diesel engine, but it is meant to be “on call if necessary.”
Neither the cash infusion amount nor production dates are given. Business Insider does, however, state that these hybrid planes may grace the sky next decade. And when they do, they will bring a wealth of promises to the travel landscape.
The greatest feature is its greener method of travel. Or, to be more specific, “80 percent lower emissions than comparable traditional aircraft.”
The report also paints a wonderful picture of more intimate settings for travelers who might board airplanes that seat 10-50 passengers.
These smaller, quieter airplanes mean something else: The fleet can land at smaller, regional airports.
As noted, this means far fewer people in line at the security checkpoints as well as picking up or offloading their bags. And, because they are regional, these airports are oftentimes closer to travelers’ homes, meaning a more efficient itinerary.
JetBlue Technology Ventures’ Bonny Simi explained the impetus behind the investment: “At JetBlue Technology Ventures, our goal is to be part of a disruptive force rather than the one being disrupted, and we seek new technologies that look to change the game. As a company that is also deeply committed to innovation in sustainable travel, we believe that Zunum and its quiet, environmentally friendly aircraft will light up a vast network of underutilized airports and reinvent regional travel.”
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The travel world is indeed attempting to embrace rather than fight green possibilities.
Recently, Hurtigruten revealed its plans to have a hybrid ship sailing the world by 2018. And the automobile industry, forever inching towards an electric future, recently saw China adapt to the world’s climate and promise to turn its taxi fleet into an electric empire.
It is perhaps a foregone conclusion that the world as we know it will flip the switch over time and welcome electric more fully into the fold.
And it is with great exuberance that we accept that future, especially if it means a quieter, more intimate flying experience.