Zunum Expands Electric Airliner Effort
Zunum Aero, a startup based in Seattle that plans to build a family of hybrid-to-electric regional aircraft, released details of its initial design on Thursday. The aircraft, the company said, will seat up to 12 passengers, and will be ready for flight tests in 2019 and first deliveries in 2022. The company also announced the opening of a development center in the Chicago area, where they plan to add more staff, expand the work on their electric propulsion technologies and start ground tests. “This is a first step toward our vision of bringing fast, affordable regional travel to thousands of communities, transforming the way we live and work,” the company said in a news release. Zunum, which was founded in 2013, is funded by Boeing HorizonX, Jet Blue Technology Ventures and the State of Washington Clean Energy Fund.
Zunum says it plans to develop hybrid-electric aircraft with a range of up to 700 miles that will efficiently serve regional networks, using underutilized secondary airports. The company is aiming for a cruise speed of about 300 knots, takeoff distance of 2,200 feet, 80 percent reductions in emissions and noise and low direct operating costs of about $250 per hour. The aircraft will be driven by quiet electric propulsors with variable-pitch fans, enabling a 40 percent reduction in runway needs, the company said. Wing-integrated batteries will enable quick swap or recharge at airports. The company also plans to develop a control platform that provides real-time flight energy optimization, power management, fault detection and recovery. “We believe that the regional transportation industry is ripe for disruption,” said Bonny Simi, president of JetBlue Technology Ventures. “We’re excited to support Zunum and its efforts to help introduce a new era of aviation.”