As we have seen often recently, big names of aircraft manufacturing are turning their attention towards the field of aerial vehicles powered by alternative and renewable sources of energy, such as for example the light of the sun, used to power planes which, either with a human pilot or without, can fly even through the night thanks to the energy harnessed bi their solar cells during the day.
With an eye to energy saving, it is natural that the next step is studying the possibility of bringing similar solutions to the world of passenger transport.
Of course, takeoff of a commercial airliner, with its weight and size several times bigger than that of a glider, requires usage of fuel powered engines, but solutions that have been taken into consideration, for example, last week during the World Symposium of Electric Aircraft, may dramatically decrease energy consumption and air pollution.
During the symposium, Boeing has presented its SUGAR Volt, a concept of hybrid plane, equipped with two engines that may run on fuel or electricity, allowing it to carry 154 passengers at a 3500 nautical miles range, reaching a Mach 0.79 speed and taking off on shorter runways than its equivalent conventional aircraft, and all this while reducing energy consumption by 70 per cent.
The concept was developed in teaming with NASA; it features two elongated and trussed wings and was designed for a possible application on commercial airliners starting from 2030 or so, therefore it will still take a long time before we can actually fly an hybrid plane from our airports.
The idea is certainly captivating, and would save a lot of power on mid-haul flights, thus reducing the relevant contribution to pollution from aircraft, which are already much cleaner than our cars.