Battery-powered air travel is not currently commercially viable simply because the energy storage capacity of batteries has yet to compensate for their heavy weight. A lot of companies are eyeing the possibility as energy density is improving and we have seen some progress with Airbus’’ E-Fan being the first electric plane to successfully fly across the English Channel.
Now a new startup is trying the more ambitious goal of building a battery-powered 150-seat plane to compete with 737-size aircrafts in the market for short-haul trips (under 300 miles).
Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who revealed having his own design for a VTOL electric plane, says that such a system becomes possible once battery energy density reaches over 400 Wh/kg, while his Tesla vehicles are believed to be currently powered by battery cells with ~250 Wh/kg.
The new company called Wright Electric stepped out of stealth mode this week at Y Combinator Demo Day.