Israeli Aerospace Industries Is Developing a Short-Distance Electric Plane
The government-owned aerospace and defense technologies developer is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the project, IAI executive says
Aerospace and defense technologies developer Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) is developing a new short-distance electric plane, Moseh Medina, Executive vice president of engineering said in an interview with Calcalist Thursday.
IAI is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the project, Mr. Medina said.
The first model will host up to ten passengers, reach flying altitude of between 10,000-20,000 feet, and a range of 320 kilometers, about the distance between London and Paris, Mr. Medina said. It will be fitted with engines running on batteries with a 30-minute charging period.
According to Mr. Medina, fuel makes up the lion’s share of expenses airline carriers and other flight operators face. Inter-city car travel is 10 times cheaper today than air travel by plane, Mr. Medina said. “We are looking to get to a point where air travel is 2-3 times the price of car travel, and we can get there,” he said. “We are developing new technologies that will improve the ratio between the battery’s weight and size and its capacity.”
Founded in 1953 and owned by the Israeli government, IAI is Israel’s largest aerospace and defense company. The company develops and manufactures advanced systems for air, space, sea, land, cyber and homeland security. IAI develops products such as satellites, jets, missiles, weapon systems, and unmanned and robotic systems for government and commercial customers worldwide.
Last week, Kitty Hawk, the autonomous flying taxi company backed by Google co-founder and Alphabet CEO Larry Page, unveiled its commercial plane. Dubbed “Cora,” the plane has a range of 100 kilometers and can take-off and land vertically.
In October 2017, Reuters reported that a Boeing and JetBlue-backed hybrid commuter plane is expected to hit the market by 2022. The plane is developed by Seattle, Washington-based startup Zunum Aero, would seat up to 12 passengers, be powered by two electric motors, and have a range of 1,600 kilometers. Uber Technologies Inc. and Airbus have also announced they are developing electric, autonomous aircrafts.
IAI’s new plane will not be autonomous, but according to Mr. Medina will have some automated functions and will be simpler and more intuitive to fly than a typical passenger plane.