Meet Alice, the battery-powered plane that could herald the age of electric air travel

plane

(Jordan Sanchez, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Elaine Thelen, Writer, Formative Content


Every minute, 84 flights take off worldwide. Last year, more than 4 billion journeys were made by plane.

Air travel underpins trade, tourism and economic growth, but it is also a major contributor to climate change.

So what about catching an electric plane? Let us introduce you to Alice – a prototype unveiled at this year’s Paris Air Show. Planes like this could be the future of short-haul flights.

The aircraft is capable of journeys of up to 1,046 km.

The aircraft is capable of journeys of up to 1,046 km.
Image: Eviation

Developed by Israeli firm Eviation, the plane will be able to carry nine passengers for up to 1,046 km.

The aircraft has one main pusher-propeller on the tail and one on each wing. Eviation says the shift to electric could significantly reduce operating costs, while eliminating greenhouse gas emissions.

What’s the World Economic Forum doing about climate change?

Climate change poses an urgent threat demanding decisive action. Communities around the world are already experiencing increased climate impacts, from droughts to floods to rising seas. The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report continues to rank these environmental threats at the top of the list.

To limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C and as close as possible to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, it is essential that businesses, policy-makers, and civil society advance comprehensive near- and long-term climate actions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The World Economic Forum’s Climate Initiative supports the scaling and acceleration of global climate action through public and private-sector collaboration. The Initiative works across several workstreams to develop and implement inclusive and ambitious solutions.

This includes the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, a global network of business leaders from various industries developing cost-effective solutions to transitioning to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy. CEOs use their position and influence with policy-makers and corporate partners to accelerate the transition and realize the economic benefits of delivering a safer climate.

Climate pledge

It’s calculated the aviation industry contributes around 2% of global emissions. The sector says it is trying to combat its impact on the environment through new technology, improved efficiency and sustainable fuels.

The IATA has pledged to reduce air travel’s CO2 emissions to half its 2005 levels by 2050.

Image: Eviation

Eviation wants to make electric aviation a feasible proposition, but the technology does currently have limitations. While the flight range of aircraft such as Alice would make them viable for use on short-haul routes, that’s not the case for long-haul.

 

Around 80% of aviation’s CO2 emissions come from flights of over 1,500km (932 miles), according to the Air Transport Action Group.

Image: Statista

The challenges of electric flight are also on the agenda of mainstream manufacturers. Boeing launched a prototype earlier this year, and last year Airbus, Siemens and Rolls-Royce unveiled a project to develop a hybrid-electric propulsion system.

Meanwhile, US regional airline Cape Air has already expressed an interest in the all-electric Alice, saying it will order a “double-digit” number of the aircraft to operate on some of its short routes. The aircraft is expected to take to the skies in 2022.

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