Airbus and easyJet join forces in push to develop electric aircraft

Low-cost carrier is pledging to offset all the carbon produced by its current flights and has signed a deal with Airbus to develop electric and hybrid aircraft. Tony McDonough reports

easyJet has already teamed up with California-based Wright Electric to develop electric planes


Low-cost airline easyJet is stepping up its efforts to introduce electric planes into its fleet of aircraft by signing a joint research agreement with global planemaker Airbus.

Last week easyJet, which operates more than 30 routes out of Liverpool John Lennon Airport, made a £25m commitment to become the world’s first net-zero carbon airline by offsetting the fuel burned on all its flights.

But the carrier acknowledged this was only a stopgap and the real goal was to working towards eliminating the use of jet fuel altogether by developing electric-powered aircraft. Last year it partnered with Wright Electric in the US to work on electric prototypes and has pledged to introduce electric commercial flights by 2030.

This latest Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)  with Airbus relates to a joint research project on hybrid and electric aircraft the at will run along side the project with Wright Electric. Airbus is in the top two aircraft manufacturers in the world, the other being Boeing. It employs around 6,000 people at a giant wing plant in Deeside.

The MoU is an important step towards furthering the industry’s understanding of the operational and infrastructure opportunities and challenges of plug-in hybrid and full electric aircraft.
Both companies
will cooperate on three distinct work packages set to define the impacts and the requirements necessary for the large-scale introduction of next generation sustainable aircraft on infrastructure and every-day commercial aircraft operations.   

Johan Lundgren, chief executive of easyJet, said: “We have a long tradition of efficient flying and a long-term partnership with Airbus. Our priority is to continue to work on reducing our carbon footprint in the short-term while we work to support the development of new technology, including hybrid-electric planes which promise to radically reduce the carbon footprint of aviation.   

“The project will aim to identify the detailed technical challenges and requirements for hybrid and electric planes when deployed for short haul flying around Europe so that we can help shape the technology and airline networks of the future. We hope this will be an important step towards making hybrid electric planes a reality.”

Guillaume Faury, Airbus chief executive, added: “Airbus is committed to meeting aviation’s decarbonisation objectives. By focusing our research efforts on hybrid and electric propulsion technologies, we are doing just that – playing a leading role, alongside our customers, in the development of clean and safe technologies for the sustainable future of our industry.”

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