easyJet’s hybrid plane

By | Category: Travel news
the proposed hybrid system

the proposed hybrid system

Many airlines will see what the aeroplane makers and the engine manufacturers have on offer and then opt for the cheapest and most fuel efficient.

Some take it a stage further and have been testing using biofuels but the issue there is that growing crops for biofuels reduces the amount of land available for growing food.

easyJet has unveiled plans for a hybrid plane, one which uses a hydrogen fuel cell stowed in the aircraft’s hold. This innovative zero-emissions system allows energy to be captured as the aircraft brakes on landing and is used to charge the system’s lightweight batteries when the aircraft is on the ground (much like the Kinetic Energy Recovery System found in F 1 cars).  The energy can then be used by the aircraft – for example when taxiing – without needing to use their jet engines.  Due to the high frequency and short sector lengths of easyJet’s operations, around 4% of the airline’s total fuel consumed annually is used when the airline’s aircraft are taxiing.

easyJet’s aircraft average 20 minutes of taxi time per flight – the equivalent of around four million miles a year – akin to travelling to the moon and back eight times. Each aircraft would have motors in their main wheels and electronics and system controllers would give pilots total control of the aircraft’s speed, direction and braking during taxi operations. The system would therefore reduce, if not remove altogether, the need for tugs to manoeuvre aircraft in and out of stands, delivering more efficient turnaround times and increased on time performance. The only waste product is fresh clean water which could be used to refill the aircraft’s water system throughout the flight.

In conjunction with some inspiration from Cranfield University, the airline is hoing for testing later this year.

If successful, the airline estimates that it could save around 50,000 tonnes of fuel and the associated CO2 emissions per year. It has now set a target for itself of a reduction of 7% in its carbon emissions over the next five years compared to ‎ emissions today.

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