American startup, Zunum Aero, is developing a line of small hybrid propulsion aircraft. The company aims to transform the regional air travel market where it is not profitable to use large aircraft.
New aircraft will have a number of advantages for flights over short distances. The main feature is, of course, the use of electric motors in combination with gas turbine engines. Gas engines run on fuel and feed the power generators, which in turn operate the electric motors. Engineers expect that such an aircraft will be more economical and environmentally friendly. The company expects to reduce the price of flights by up to 80% as a result of the lower fuel consumption and cheaper operation costs.
Reducing downtime between flights and the time that passengers have to spend at the airport will make flights 40% faster.
Another plus is that there is much less noise from aircrafts with hybrid engines. According to Zunum's calculations airports nearby will be 75% quieter.
Zunum plans to enter the market by 2020. The company will start with the production of hybrid aircraft with a flight range of about 1100 km and a speed of up to 550 kilometers per hour. The first model will be designed for 12 seats with the possibility of conversion into a 6-seater business jet. Larger models - up to 50 seats - will appear by 2030 and will be able to cover about 1600 km without refueling. The long-term development of the company is focused on a complete transition to electric motors.
The startup has already received the support of Boeing and JetBlue Airways but the total amount of investment has not been disclosed. To date, the staff of Zunum Aero consists of only 13 people. But the composition of the team is credible with investors. Founder and CEO of Zunum Aero Ashish Kumar worked for Google, Microsoft, and Dell. He also has a successful startup experience: he participated in the launch of the Aeroxchange project, which is the largest e-commerce site in the aviation industry today. The company's website has an impressive list of vacancies in the field of aircraft and power engineering, which indicates that the company intends to expand.
Zunum Aero is headquartered in Seattle. The company is opening offices in Chicago to attract new talented specialists.