A would-be aircraft manufacturer says it will run electrically-powered flights within a decade.
Wright Electric says it would be able to carry 150 passengers on short-haul flights up to 300 miles, with London to Paris the initial route.
Electric planes already exist, reaching up to 200 miles per hour, but existing models usually carry only the pilot. The most high-profile example was Solar Impulse 2, which tops up batteries through solar panels and completed a round-the-world trip without refuelling (albeit with multiple stops.)
While the concept of electric planes is established, the bigger issue with larger craft is the size and weight of batteries. Wright Electric says it’s 2027 goal is achievable if battery technology continues to improve at the existing pace, but warns that if that doesn’t happen it would have to switch to a hybrid model.
There’s also the issue of recharging batteries. Wright’s planned approach is to use modular batteries stored in the hold. These would simply be swapped out for fresh ones while the plane is on a turnaround at the airport. The used batteries could then be recharged without delaying the plane’s next journey.
As well as lowering fuel costs and in turn ticket prices, an electric plane could be significantly quieter, cutting noise pollution at airports.
However, aviation expert Graham Warwick told the BBC that even if the battery technology does improve in the coming years, any launch would likely face lengthy delays while aviation regulators drew up new rules to cover electric planes.