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The future of flying? Hybrid plane takes to the skies in landmark UK flight

The aircraft is an important step in the race to decarbonize aviation, but net zero flights are still a bit far off.

In the race to net zero, aviation remains a formidable hurdle. The sector is not only one of the fastest growing sources of emissions in the world (before the pandemic), but also one of the most difficult to decarbonize. With the absence of green out-of-the-box alternatives to the jet engine, the only viable short-term solution to clearing the airways is to fly less.

The good news is that low-carbon aviation is making progress, as evidenced by UK airspace this week. There, a hybrid aircraft is conducting a series of demonstration flights between Exeter Airport and Cornwall Newquay Airport, following a successful test between Wick and Kirkwell in Scotland a fortnight ago. It is the first time that an electrically powered aircraft has participated in such tests in the UK.

The aircraft involved is a modified six-seater Cessna 337 with a battery-powered electric motor and a traditional combustion engine. protect, the firm behind the plane, described the flights as “an important first step in decarbonizing” regional air travel.

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According to Ampaire, its hybrid jet uses 30 percent less fuel than its non-hybrid rivals. That is a significant reduction. But given the tiny size of the aircraft, the modest savings highlight how much progress still needs to be made for the UK aviation industry to deliver on its promise of being net zero by 2050.

In addition to reducing emissions, Ampaire said the plane would reduce flight costs, which could make some regional routes more financially viable, thereby improving connectivity with isolated communities.

Test flights are part of the Sustainable aviation test environment draft. It was established to test low-carbon technologies for aviation from its base at Kirkwall Airport, Orkney.

However, while hybrid flights mark an important step towards greening air travel, Friends of the Earth warned that action is needed now to curb the rise in aviation emissions.

The hybrid jet uses 30 percent less fuel than its non-hybrid rivals. Image: Ampaire

“We will not beat the climate crisis by waiting for greener solutions tomorrow; we need real action today” said charity. He is campaigning for a tax on frequent fliers and to stop the expansion of the airport in the UK.

Those who avoid the skies in the name of the weather are being cared for by a growing number of ground travel companies. The French startup Midnight trains It is one of them. It recently announced plans to restart the sleeper concept with a fleet of ‘rolling hotels’ that will transport passengers between European cities from April 2022. Other European rail operators have similar plans.

Then there is a travel agency without flights Byway. It was launched in the second UK lockdown to capitalize on the growing demand for no-fly holidays and promote the virtues of slow travel. Its founder, Cat Jones, told Positive News that the business is booming.

“It’s really exciting because it seems like now is the time to travel slowly. Now is the time when people stop thinking of trains as a substitute for airplanes and start thinking of them as a form of vacation and traveling differently, ”he said.

Lead Image: Ampaire


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