Do Electric Planes REALLY Work?! I tried one and here is what I think

Mentour Pilot checks out Electric Planes.

The Captain

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So, what did he think?



“How much did that cost in propulsion”?

“About one EUR”.

He likes it DrBob.

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Energy density nowhere near what is needed for actual up in the air a long time aviation, but is perfect for pilot training. It hones the experience down to something close to what I did when learning to pilot by starting out with stick and rudder glider flying to learn “how to fly” with no need to obsess with the much more extended checklist and complications of ICE engine aircraft, and the crux issues of mastering controlled take off and landing in various conditions is what it is about, with a little interlude of enjoying flying around for awhile. To fly this thing, after charging it up, you just turn 4 switches on, talk to tower, and off you go…for a not too long but utterly elegant flight.

You are close to invisible because for weight and power reasons, apparently, they do not have an electronic beacon on board, and you fly low below most radar visibility.

I’d love to take that thing up. Ah well, in another life…

david fb


He said, “I loved it!”

The Captain

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Propeller driven electrics have to be no competition for jets. A special use, recreational plane.

How about an electric jet plane? Possible? Anyone have an idea? Working on it?

Green jet fuel will be expensive but seems more possible!!

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Not likely, jet, turbo, ram, or otherwise depends on burning fuel.

People ignore the huge number of electric planes in the air all the time. Drones are electric flying machines. No one seems disturbed by their performance since they do what is required of them.

Practical thinking is more productive than ideological thinking.

The Captain


There is an airline in British Columbia (Harbour Air) working on a commercial electric seaplane. Their entire fleet is seaplanes and most of their routes are short hops. They have a flying prototype (an electric de Haviland Beaver) and the only hold up at this point is regulatory approval.


Harbour Air’s Electric Beaver Has Made Its First Point-To-Point Flight – Robb Report


I watched a YouTube video on it yesterday. The newest not yet in production chemistry it touted as making electric planes the that can compete with the 737. To get the same 4000 mile range a 737 has the newest not yet in production batteries would need to have 7 fold increase in weight and volume density.

However, if the flights we 500 mile hops, the with the newest not yet in production chemistry, the electric plane could compete.

While battery cost have been falling and are likely to continue to fall, new chemistries that would allow for Moores law type of advances in battery technology have not materialized.

Seeing energy density both volumetric and specific increase by 100 percent in say 3 years has not been happening. It has been promised, but not delivered. For it to happen year after year for another 9 years, which is what it would take to make an electric airliner competitive with a Boeing 737 is unlikely.

However, there are even more money and more talent going into battery research every year. So I would not say it is impossible.


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I expect to see electric regional airliners. Alaska Airlines is currently running an Embraer E175 regional jet every hour between Portland and Seattle, a 20-30 minute flight. An electric plane could probably do that today.



I don’t think a propellar driven electric can compete with a jet. Max speed has to be about 180 mph with a prop vs 500 mph by jet.

Your travel time on that 4000 mi trip doubles or triples. I don’t think that works unless jets are banned. Jets with synthetic green fuel are far more practical.

Just wondering why they are trying to make old tech (single wing lift type) work with something new? The multi engine type thing makes way more sense in the long run.

This from up in the cold north of country -

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(insert presentation of reasonable, high frequency short range commuter request)

{Response pointing to long range, high speed example not present in first presentation}

“It will never work.”

Just like our investing choices, our energy policy, our religion, our politics, our life’s choices, our living arrangements, our eating habits…

A panoply of choices is the likely long run solution to almost all of our opportunities.

I think our strong bent toward investing has us trying to constantly distill everything down to the “only” choice.

Why not allow room for use cases that work with “inferior” technology that happens to be cheaper, easier to maintain and more accessible by design?

I’d love to jump into a VTOL aircraft that is much cheaper and faster per ride than a taxi for similar urban commutes.

I’m probably still going to jump on the fastest route to Japan from O’hare, though.


Typically disruptive innovation starts by serving underserved markets. Then it disrupts the whole market – unless it it fails to Cross the Chasm.

At this time electric aviation has not yet Crossed the Chasm but there are lots of interesting developments happening.

Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers

The Captain!


Meanwhile over on the Renewable Energy board they are reporting that hydrogen works as a jet engine fuel.

I think hydrogen fueled jet planes are more likely. Or green synthetic jet fuel.

And you wonder if hydrogen will work as a diesel fuel.

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Natural gas as diesel fuel failed miserably. I believe it was mostly the lack of infrastructure. Airports should be easier to supply than all the spots where trucks drive.

At the end of the day the most likely answer to which fuel will it be, “Most of the above.”

The Captain

Strictly speaking that’s true, but in a nutshell hydrogen has a lower energy density than liquid fuels, so the plane needs to be physically bigger.

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Cut down your own trees to make log scales…