The Anonymous Widower

Aerospace Electrified By New Technology

The title of this post, is the same as of this article on the BBC.

The article is a good summary of the state of zero-carbon aviation.

July 19, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Wright Electric Announces Plans For 100-Seater Electric Aircraft

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Electrive.

It is an article well worth a read about Wright’s plans to convert BAe 146 airliners into electric airlines.

November 9, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 2 Comments

The Collateral Effects Of Electric Aircraft

The Times today has an article which is entitled Cost-Cutting And Crew Shortages Will Force Pilots To Fly Solo.

The title says it all and it may well happen.

Although, the pilots and their unions will resist it.

I remember in the 1980s, Air UK, used to fly Embraer Bandeirante aircraft between Norwich and Stavanger with just a single fully qualified pilot.

However, the flight attendant was a qualified private pilot, who had sufficient training to take over, if the pilot were to be incapacitated for some reason.

I fairly sure that nothing ever went seriously wrong.

The article in The Times doesn’t mention electric aircraft, but I got to thinking, they will have collateral effects on aviation.

A Proposed Electric Aircraft

The nearest aircraft to a recognisable airliner so far proposed is the Wright Electric Jet.

This description of the aircraft is from Wikipedia.

The aircraft is to run on batteries and handle flights of under 300 miles. It will feature high aspect-ratio wings for energy efficient flight, distributed electric propulsion and swappable battery packs with advanced cell chemistry.

The aircraft was being developed with easyJet, who now seem to be talking to Airbus.

I find the talking to Airbus significant.

  • The aerospace giant have long experience with aerodynamics, composite structures and advanced flight controls and avionics to build a strong lightweight airliner.
  • They have a significant share of the small airliner market.
  • They have a worldwide support organisation.

The only thing that electric airliners lack, is an efficient electric propulsion system. But they are on friendly terms with companies like Rolls-Toyce, who are developing suitable products.

The Wikipedia entry for Wright Electric  says that they are aiming to develop an electric airliner with these characteristics.

  • Single aisle
  • 120 seats
  • Fifty percent less noise
  • Ten percent lower costs.

I would suspect, that Airbus are working towards a similar set of objectives.


  1. The aircraft will have long narrow wings with a high aspect-ratio.
  2. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a long fuselage with four abreast seating.
  3. The airliner would have to fit existing jetways, taxiways and stands at airports.

I don’t think that the design of the aircraft is too challenging, but battery charging and the engines will be more so.

The Collateral Effects

Electric airlines will have various effects on flying, airports and the environment.

Low Noise Could Allow More Airports To Be Served

This probably goes without saving.

Alternative Airport Design

But I also wonder, if it could lead to some innovative one-runway designs of airports, that were used solely by electric aircraft.

  • There would be short taxiways to save energy.
  • The terminal might be half-way along the runway.
  • There would be a source of zero-carbon energy nearby.
  • The airport could be near a city or town centre, perhaps served by a tram system to cut carbon emissions.

I also wonder whether an airport only served by electric planes would attract passengers.

More Airports Would Mean More Routes

Again this probably goes without saying.

More Routes Would Mean More People Flying

But this would not be at the expense of extra carbon emissions for the actual flying.

More Routes Would Mean More Pilots

So perhaps the predictions and fears of the article in The Times are well founded?

Efficient Battery Charging Would Be Needed

Wright Electric have said that they will swap full batteries for the empty ones in the plane, which I assume would be checked and charged at a convenient location.

The fastest way to recharge a battery is to connect it to some form of low-impedance energy storage like batteries or supercapacitors.

So I wouldn’t be surprised to see airports, that had electric routes had adequate and sophisticated electrical storage, which would be charged using renewable sources like hydro, solar, wave and wind,

The storage could even be built underneath the apron or aircraft stand.

Aircraft Would Drive Battery Technology To New Levels Of Efficiency

Aircraft will need lightweight efficient batteries.

This will mean that some of the world’s best battery technologists will receive the funds and the backing to create new and more efficient batteries.

As battery technology gets more efficient and more affordable, this will mean that other applications like zero-carbon heavy trucks, railway locomotives and energy storage of renewable power, will become more affordable as well.


We may have the ultimate contradiction.

More flying, more routes, less noise and no extra carbon emissions.


December 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Opinion: Why Aviation Needs to Go Green, and How

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Aeronautics Online.

Read the article and especially what it says about the Wright Electric Jet.

This is a paragraph from Wikipedia, talking about co-operation between Wright Electric and easyJet.

In September 2017, UK budget carrier EasyJet announced it was developing an electric 180-seater for 2027 with Wright Electric. Wright Electric built a two-seat proof-of-concept with 272kg (600lb) of batteries, and believes that batteries can be scaled up with substantially lighter new battery chemistries: a 291 nautical mile (540km) range would suffice for 20% of Easyjet passengers. Wright Electric plans to develop a 10-seater and eventually an at least 120 passengers single-aisle, short-haul airliner and targets 50% lower noise and 10% lower costs.

I would assume, that the plane also emits a lot less CO2 and other pollutants.

I would assume that the plane will be built by using the best of these technologies.

  • Aerodynamics
  • Lightweight structures
  • Electric Motors
  • Batteries
  • Electronics and avionics.

But I also believe that designing an electric aircraft could be a very different process to a conventional one.

There Is No Fuel


  • Fuel is a high proportion of the weight of an airliner on take-off.
  • There are a lot of complicated systems to pump fuel to the engines and also from tank to tank to trim or balance the aircraft
  • When a conventional airliner takes off, it is much heavier than when it lands, as fuel has been burned.
  • Fuel is dangerous in a heavy landing or crash.

On the other hand, I’m fairly certain, that empty batteries and full ones weigh the same.

This would mean, that the plane aerodynamics and structure,  would be designed to be optimal in the various phases of flight.

  • Taxiing out to the runway.
  • Taking off.
  • The climb to the cruising altitude.
  • The cruise
  • The descent to the destination airport.
  • The landing
  • Taxiing in to the terminal or stand.

In the climb, cruise and descent  phases power would be set and the trim adjusted, by the autopilot to attain the right speed and rate of climb or descent.


As the weight of the aircraft would be the same in all three phases and would need more or less the same lift, with clever aerodynamics, I think we will see a very simple wing. In fact, probably more like that of a sailplane than an airliner.

Wikipedia says this about the design.

The aircraft is to run on batteries and handle flights of under 300 miles. It will feature high aspect-ratio wings for energy efficient flight, distributed electric propulsion and swappable battery packs with advanced cell chemistry.

Note that sailplanes have high aspect ratio wings.

Compared to say a small jet airliner like an Airbus A318, I suspect that the wings will be longer, but possibly simpler.

The Wright Electric Jet will probably have various aerodynamic aids, like flaps and winglets. In fact the picture on Wikipedia shows the latter, which reduce drag.

A Simple Flight Profile

The fastest way to fly between A and B is probably to take off and climb as fast as possible to the optimum cruising altitude, where an optimum cruise is maintained, until the time comes to descend into the destination airport. Much of the descent would be straight in to the runway.

I have flown in an easyJet Airbus 320 from Schipol to Southend in much this manner and the plane arrived ahead of schedule.

I suspect that easyJet like to fly like this, as it saves fuel, but Air Traffic Control probably doesn’t allow it that often.

But simple efficient profiles like this would be ideal for electric aircraft.

If as I suspect their aerodynamics would allow a better glide ratio than a jet powered airliner. So to get a longer range, an electric aircraft might do a long approach.

A Low Noise Aircraft

As I said earlier, Wright are talking about fifty percent less noise.

This could be a game-changer for a smaller airport like Luton or Southend, where the approach can be over residential areas.

Especially for Southend, where planes from the East could do a long descent over the sea and come straight in on Runway 23.

Could Southend become London’s short-haul airport for electric aircraft?

  • easyJet and Ryanair are already there.
  • There’s plenty of wind power in the area
  • It has a good rail connection to London and could be served by Crossrail.

Essex is a county that likes to be different.


The original article also mentions Airbus.

Airbus has the skills to design the required light and strong airframe, the aerodynamic knowledge.and a large support network.

They also have a lot to lose, if someone else takes away, the smaller part of their masrket.

Ignore Airbus at your peril.


The more I think about it, the more that I think a 120 passenger electric airliner with a range of 540 km, could be a very handy plane.



December 10, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 3 Comments