A battery-powered, all-electric passenger aircraft from Wright Electric generated significant buzz at this week’s Y Combinator Demo Day in Silicon Valley — a showcase for the tech industry’s most promising startup ventures.
Tech Crunch reported that Wright Electric’s concept aircraft would run on batteries and fly on short-haul routes of up to 300 miles. The Wright One plane currently being built would have 150 seats and compete with commercial aircraft like the Boeing 737.
The company already has produced battery-powered two-seater aircraft, and is working with Chip Yates, who designed the plane that holds the record for electric-powered flight — more than 1,000 miles.
Company officials said that future advances could allow the plane to fly on batteries only, although a hybrid fuel-battery system might be required in the interim.
Wright Electric’s goal is to make all short-haul flights electric-powered within 20 years. Co-founder Jeff Engler said the company’s design calls for modular battery packs that can easily be changed at the airport.
British low-cost carrier Easyjet is among airlines expressing interest in Wright Electric’s aircraft, which could be used on popular routes like London-Paris, according to a BBC report.
Airbus also is reportedly working on an electric-powered aircraft.