Spanish low-cost carrier Volotea has announced that it has reached an agreement with Madrid-based aviation start-up Dante Aeronautical to help develop a hybrid-electric passenger aircraft.
The project aims to reduce fuel emissions by 50% compared to current jet and propeller aircraft. Volotea intends to use the aircraft, which will carry between 19 and 35 passengers, to link mid- and small-sized European cities. These types of routes are not profitable for current aircraft, and often alternative means of transport are unavailable.
Other participants in the project include global innovation and engineering consulting firm ALTRAN, as well as the Universities of Sydney and Adelaide in Australia.
IATA’s industry goal of reducing net aviation CO2 emissions by 50% by 2050 relies on the introduction of alternative technologies such as hybrid- and full-electric aircraft.
Carlos Muñoz, Founder and CEO of Volotea had this to say about the project:
“As part of our proactive environmental policy, Volotea will actively collaborate with DΔNTE Aeronautical in the development of this hybrid-electric aircraft, in order to support the reduction of carbon emissions and noise from aircraft operations.
Volotea will provide DΔNTE with market analysis and technical data. Volotea engineers and commercial specialists have been appointed and made available to validate this market opportunity and provide technical support as well.”
More on Dante and Its Goals
Dante, founded in Madrid, has a presence in both Spain and Australia. It was created to use the aviation electrification revolution to develop the best aircraft for connecting small and mid-sized communities point-to-point on thin routes.
With all the hype around full-electric aircraft that Dante says “although technically viable will only have a small social, environmental and economic impact in niche markets for the foreseeable future,” Dante has chosen a different path.
The aircraft will be powered by Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), batteries for energy storage, and an internal combustion turbo-generator, which will work as a “range extender”.
Dante’s vision for full-electric aircraft
Dante’s plans involve a future retrofit to a battery only powerplant. However, they believe full-electric aircraft will not be commercially viable until the 2030s.
Miguel Madinabeitia, the co-founder of Dante Aeronautical, said the following:
“If we want to make aviation more sustainable, we need to find the sweet spot between ambitious emissions reduction targets and realistic economic propositions.
A full electric aircraft is a nice long term goal, but it will have very little impact in the near term if it is just a niche product for wealthy individuals. Electric powerplants with additional hybrid range extenders represent instead a real opportunity to reduce emissions drastically in the shorter term because they enable a new market for door to door regional air transport with competitive costs. In DΔNTE we are developing the right technology, and Volotea is showing the drive and interest to make it a commercial reality.”
Featured Image Source: Dante Aeronautical.