The British eco-baron Dale Vince has revealed plans for the world’s first Electric Airline, powered by renewable energy.
Named ‘Ecojet’, Vince hopes the startup will mark the “beginning of an aviation revolution by making net-zero, emission-free air travel possible for the first time”.
Ecojet’s fleet will comprise conventional planes retrofitted with hydrogen-electric powertrains.
Once converted, the aircraft will operate with the same power output as before, but with 100% reduction in CO2 emissions.
The company claims the decision to repurpose old planes rather than build new models from scratch will save 90,000 tons of carbon per year.
The only byproduct will be water, which can be captured and released into the lower atmosphere to avoid the harmful effects of contrails.
Vince already founded and runs Ecotricity in the United Kingdom (UK) which was the first energy company to offer its customers green electricity.
Vince has partnered with experienced pilot Brent Smith and a team of aviation specialists to set up Ecojet.
Flights across the UK will commence in early 2024, starting with the Edinburgh to Southampton route, and expanding to mainland Europe shortly after, with long-haul flights planned for the future.
According to Vince, aviation accounts for some 3% of global CO2 emissions, while overall contribution to the climate crisis is estimated at three times this level due to the altitude that fossil fuel pollution is released at.
“Ecojet is the first step in that process, estimated to be ten years ahead of the rest of the industry in the development of what Dale described as ‘the biggest revolution in the aviation industry since the invention of the jet engine’,” the airline said.
Short-term, to secure routes and a license from the Uk’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Ecojet will initially launch using conventionally fueled planes.
Ecojet will launch with two different sizes of turboprop aircraft (a 19-seat aircraft and a 70-seat aircraft).
These aircraft will be retrofitted with hydrogen-electric powertrains as they become approved for service by the CAA. The first retrofits will take place in 2025, one year after the commencement of flights.
“The question of how to create sustainable air travel has plagued the green movement for decades, Ecojet is by far the most significant step towards a solution to date. The desire to travel is deeply etched into the human spirit, and flights free of C02 emissions, powered by renewable energy will allow us to explore our incredible world without harming it for the first time,” Vince added.