A mechanical engineer from IIT Delhi is on his process to develop hybrid planes in the United States & expects to sell the identical in India for around 1,100-km-long regional flights by first 2020s. Ashish Kumar, The CEO & founder of Kirkland (Washington)-based Zunum Aero, is evolving regional hybrid-electric aircraft whose range will go up to sixteen hundred 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 early 2020s,” said Kumar, a Ph.D. in mechanical & aerospace engineering from Cornell University.
“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 door-to-door time for flyers,” said Kumar.
“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 told.