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Several different companies are investigating the possibilities – and impossibilities – of electric flight. Hard on the heels of the success of the electric car, now it is the turn of electric aircraft. For the aviation sector, safety is an even bigger consideration, so we will have to wait some time for electric aircraft to take off.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has already announced that he is keen to develop an aircraft that will run entirely on electricity. In 2017, EasyJet also indicated that the company would like to start the transition in 2027 and be 100% electric by 2037, and the airline has entered into partnership with Wright Electric to achieve this goal. Also in 2017, Eviation Aircraft showcased a prototype for a fully-electric aircraft. As you can see, the first steps have already been taken, although serious commercial interest in electric flight is still lacking.
The Netherlands is also home to several actors who are working to promote and research electric flight. The General Aviation e-platform was launched in July 2018 with the aim of raising the profile in the Dutch business community of aircraft that run on electricity, hybrid fuel systems and other sustainable energy sources, as well as stimulating interest from the government and among the general public.
There is even an electric test aircraft, the Pipistrel Alpha Electro, at the Dutch Aerospace Centre (Nederlands Lucht- en Ruimtevaartcentrum, NLR). Researchers are using this plane to amass knowledge and experience in the field of electric flight. In the Living Lab Electric Flight, the NLR is investigating the potential to increase the Pipistrel Alpha Electro’s range using new battery technology or a fuel cell in combination with aerodynamic improvements.