Sustainable Energy

EasyJet partners with electric aircraft manufacturer and eyes a future without jet fuel

Sean Gallup | Getty Images

Low-cost airline EasyJet has entered into a partnership with electric aircraft manufacturer Wright Electric.

In an announcement Wednesday, the airline said it had been working with the U.S.-based business this year and revealed a prototype electric plane with a range of 335 miles. The new electric aircraft could, in theory, cover 20 percent of EasyJet's passenger journeys.

EasyJet said its partnership would see it support Wright Electric's aim of designing and scaling its commercial electric aircraft over the next decade.

"We share an ambition with Wright Electric for a more sustainable aviation industry," Carolyn McCall, EasyJet's CEO, said in a statement. "Just as we have seen with the automotive industry, the aviation industry will be looking to electric technology to reduce our impact on the environment."

EasyJet said the collaboration with Wright Electric was part of a wider strategy to decarbonize and cut noise from aviation operations.

"For the first time we can envisage a future without jet fuel and we are excited to be part of it," McCall said. "It is now more a matter of when, not if, a short-haul electric plane will fly."

Wright Electric was founded in 2016 by aerospace engineers, powertrain experts and battery chemists. The business has said its goal is for every short flight to be zero-emissions within the next 20 years.

The European Commission has described aviation as "one of the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions."

A range of efforts to tackle the issue are underway. Last year, for example, the Solar Impulse 2 became the first plane to travel round the world using only solar power.

In 2011, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines ran its first commercial flight using biofuel. In September 2016, the airline said it had signed a three-year deal to run biofuel flights out of Los Angeles.