New Delhi: A mechanical specialist from IIT Delhi is en route to creating hybrid planes in the US and would like to offer the same in India for around 1,100-km-long provincial flights by mid-2020s. Ashish Kumar, CEO and organiser of Kirkland (Washington)- based Zunum Aero, is creating local hybrid-electric aircraft whose range will go up to 1,600 km by 2030.

“Boeing and JetBlue (via JetBlue Technology Ventures subsidiary) are backing us. We will first come out with a sub-20 seater hybrid aircraft. We hope to have the first prototype flying in two years and begin commercial production in the early 2020s,” Kumar, a PhD in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Cornell University said to TOI.

“Our planes will be way cheaper for airlines to operate. They will not go as high as commercial aircraft due to the distances they will be covering. While they will be slower than other planes, their ability to land at airstrips closer to final destination will significantly reduce a door-to-door time for flyers,” said Kumar.

Established in 2013, Zunum Aero is building a group of business hybrid-to-electric aircraft intended for territorial travel, and controlled by range-optimized powertrain and propulsion technologies. The organisation`’s vision is to create 1,000-mile electric air networks to convey quick and affordable travel to people.

“The shift of the industry to large aircraft and long ranges driven by gas turbines has concentrated almost all air traffic to just one percent of our airports, creating a massive transport gap over regional distances where there is no high-speed alternative. Hybrid propulsion is an industry-changing solution, enabling mid-sized aircraft on regional routes to have better cost efficiencies than airliners,” he said.

The hybrid planes, Zunum cases, will have 80% lower emissions. The low working expense of these planes, Kumar says, will permit airlines to offer affordable prices. “We are looking at India in a big way,” he said.

With the inputs of TOI

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