Electric Aircraft Flies out of Stealth Mode

March 29, 2017 by Jeff Shepard

Wright Electric, a Massachusetts, U.S.A. based aircraft manufacturer startup founded in 2016, has announced it's building a 150-seat plane to disrupt the 737 market. It's struck a partnership with budget British airline EasyJet, which could put its design in the air.

“It almost goes without saying, but if we could make an electric 150-seater, it would have a huge market. In 2016, Boeing and Airbus sold 967 ‘narrow body’ 737s/A320s. At $90m per plane, 967 x $90m equals an $87b annual market. 30% of narrow body flights are under 300 miles. 30% x $87b = $26b. Adding in the regional jet market increases market by up to 50%. And the market validation above gives us confidence we’re on the right path,” observed Wright Electric co-founder Jeff Engler.

“Our design intentionally doesn’t require beyond-the-pale technology assumptions. For example, we’re not inventing new wings or fuselage formats. Our airframe is designed to comply with existing FAA regulations. The aero team has decades of experience at places like Boeing Phantom Works and Cessna. They’ve received numerous grants from NASA focusing specifically on electric planes. If anyone can design a feasible plane, it’s these folks.

“And we’ve designed our battery strategy to be robust to different battery futures. If batteries don’t get dramatically better in the next decade, we design our plane as a hybrid with electric motors, like a Volt. It still has great cost savings as compared to today’s planes, and it doesn’t require massive battery advances.

“If batteries do get a lot better in the next decade, our plane is fully-electric and has fantastic cost savings. A near-future jump to a chemistry like Lithium-Metal doesn’t seem beyond the realm of possibility. For these and other reasons, we are confident about moving forward,” Engler concluded.