Cape Air Set to Make Aviation History [PHIL-OSOPHY]
The Wright brothers made history by creating the first worldwide web through their airplane.
Cape Air is about to break the sound barrier of history, too. The regional carrier, that's grown from three planes to over 100 aircraft in 30 years, is getting ready for take-off as the world's first airline to order commercial planes that are all-electric.
Advances in lithium-ion battery technology hold the promise of heralding a new era of ultra-clean and efficient electric airplanes.
Cape Air founder and CEO Dan Wolf plans to have a nine-passenger plane that runs on electric batteries by 2023, and hopes to acquire energy from locally-based Vineyard Wind, if possible. If not, he and his brother Jim have a solar array collector that could be used to recharge the batteries.
The costs will be about 40 percent of what they're currently spending, seeing that the two major components of current airline costs are fuel at 27 percent and maintenance at 11 percent. Cape Air will save money in both those areas and the benefits environmentally will be enormous, because conventional planes emit two percent of global greenhouse gases.
Looking like a very cool and sleek aircraft from the future, the plane–called the Alice–is manufactured by the Israeli company Eviation and was unveiled in June at the Paris Air Show.
The Alice will be able to fly 50 percent faster, and Cape Air's short-haul electric aircraft will be particularly compelling given the fact that no alternative fuel sources can deliver the same level of great savings. To give you an example of the low costs of electric engines, a two-seater aircraft can fly 60 miles, using 25 kilowatts, for a total of only $3.
Just think about this for a minute. A little airline that initially only flew from Boston to Provincetown has grown to serve 35 destinations from the Northeast to the Midwest. And now this little company has become the first in the world to order commercial airplanes that run on batteries.
That, to me, is totally electrifying!
Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.