Imagine hopping on an electric commuter airplane at a smaller, convenient airport near your home in San Francisco and flying straight to Sacramento in around 20 minutes, instead of battling traffic for over 100 miles for up to two hours.
Sounds like a dream, doesnt it?
Well, it turns out that the electric energy transition in the aviation space could be here much sooner than you think and its going to be big.
As electric aircraft developers prepare for takeoff, some airports are planning ahead to meet the changing needs from the industry.
Cleveland Hopkins International Airport is initiating plans to revamp its half-century-old airport with the future in mind, including plenty of electric-charging stations for both aircraft and cars. It may also include space for vertically taking off and landing aircraft and revamped airfield and terminal areas to accommodate smaller, electric-powered vehicles.
Baiju Shah, President and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, emphasizes the importance of forward-thinking: "I think its critical for us to look into the future, understand the trends and technology and use that to inform the design."
Cleveland Hopkins is currently in the early stages of planning a $2 billion overhaul of its aging terminal with plans to start construction in 2025.
While Joby Aviation, a pioneer in electric aircraft, plans to build its first manufacturing plant in Southwest Ohio, other companies are actively developing small, electric-powered regional jets set to carry 30 passengers on short trips of 250 miles or more.
The aviation landscape is poised for a transformation similar to the impact electric cars have had on ground transportation. Kevin Burke, President and CEO of Airports Council International-North America, remarks, "This is not the Jetsons, but were getting closer to it."
Key considerations for airports preparing for an electric aircraft future include accommodating the substantial power demand of these vehicles, adjusting for smaller regional aircraft, and securing approval from regulatory bodies like the Federal Aviation Administration.
Progress is already underway, with some experts predicting the presence of electric air taxis in the skies by 2025. The motivation behind this innovation extends beyond convenience, aiming to address the environmental impact of traditional air travel.
The shift to electric aviation may take time, but the potential benefits include quieter flights, reduced maintenance costs, and overall lower operational expenses. While the complete electrification of long-distance aircraft might be decades away, airlines are already making strides in introducing smaller electric planes.
Surf Air Mobility Inc. (NYSE:SRFM), a leading US regional air mobility platform and the largest commuter airline in the US by scheduled departures, is at the forefront of revolutionizing regional air travel by leveraging electrification and upgrading existing aircraft to substantially reduce the cost and environmental impact of air travel.
Surf Air Mobility plans to deploy both electric and hybrid-electric aircraft across its network by upgrading existing aircraft with new engines opposed to developing new electric airplanes from the ground up. With its hybrid electric aircraft, the company can accelerate time to market because it won't need large investments into charging infrastructure to start flying like its fully-electric counterparts.
Transforming Regional Air Travel through Electrification
In pursuit of this vision, Surf Air is collaborating with commercial partners to develop electrified powertrain technology, aiming to retrofit existing fleets with electric propulsion and introduce electric aircraft on a large scale to the market. The company's leadership team, possessing extensive expertise in aviation, electrification, and consumer technology, is steering this ambitious initiative.
Surf Air Mobility Inc. (NYSE:SRFM) plans to utilize regional airports, 5,000 of which are significantly underused, fostering shared private and commercial-like air services with small turboprop planes. With plans to expand across 30 regional networks, the company leverages its tech-enabled regional air mobility platform, enhancing accessibility to existing aircraft and pilot assets in the marketplace.
Following its debut on the public market, Surf Air Mobility announced an exclusive partnership with Textron Aviation Inc., a subsidiary of Textron Inc. This strategic collaboration includes an order for 100 Cessna Grand Caravan EX aircraft. Deliveries of the initial 20 Cessna aircraft are scheduled to commence in the first half of 2024.
These planes will undergo conversion to incorporate Surf Air Mobility's proprietary electric or hybrid-electric powertrain technology.
Surf Air Mobility aims to democratize access to electrified aircraft for both new and existing operators, intending to offer customers the advantages of cost-effective, low-emission air travel on a large scale. Additionally, the company will be the exclusive provider of certain battery electric and hybrid electric powertrain technology for the Cessna Grand Caravan to Textron Aviation.
Surf Air Mobility plans to deploy both electric and hybrid-electric Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft across its network, facilitating direct short-haul services to connect more airports. Simultaneously, the company aspires to establish a regional mass transport platform that fosters sustainable connectivity among communities throughout the US.
The anticipated benefits of the new electrified architecture include a substantial reduction in direct operating costs, with targets ranging from up to 25% to 50%, and a significant decrease in direct carbon emissions, with targets ranging from up to 50% to 100%, all while maintaining performance levels similar to the current models. Importantly, these aircraft have the potential to be operational at over 5,000 public-use airports across the US, with no need for charging stations in the case of hybrid-electric powertrain versions.
Indeed, the dawn of the electric aircraft transition is coming and Surf Air Mobility are gearing up to fuel the evolution with greener, more affordable travel.
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