easyJet To Test Electric Aircraft Features


easyJet boasts low-carbon emissions

The European airline easyJet is set to test several progressive enviro-friendly features for installation on its aircraft. The proposed advancements center around creating fuel-efficient aircraft taxiing. easyJet plans on storing hydrogen fuel cells in the hold of the craft that are recharged by braking and electric wheel motors.

Airplane taxiing consumes approximately 4% of easyJet’s annual fuel expenditures because of the company’s high frequency and short lengths of operation. The plan is to use the energy stored in the rechargeable fuel cells during taxiing instead of using the jet engines.

Pilots would have complete control during taxiing. Speed, braking, and directions would be accessible via electronics and systems controllers. The system aims to eliminate the need for tugs to maneuver aircraft in and out of stands, resulting in more efficient turnaround times and more reliable on-time performances.

Interestingly, the waste product of the proposed system is fresh H²O, which could be used to refill the airplane’s water tank during flight.

easyJet taxiing
Aircraft during taxiing operations

easyJet has set a goal of reducing carbon emissions by 7% by the year 2020. This follows up a 28% reduction over the last 15 years. When calculated, an easyJet passenger has a 22% lower carbon footprint than other airline passengers flying in the same type craft on the same route. The airline plans on receiving new jets as of 2017 that will be 13–15% more fuel efficient than the ones it’s using now.

In November of 2015, students at Cranfield University competed to develop ideas for what air travel could look like in 20 years. This was in collaboration with easyJet to celebrate the company’s 20th birthday. The competition inspired the hybrid plane concept and the two parties have since signed a three-year partnership agreement to share innovation and knowledge.

Maybe we’ll see a bigger one of these in the not so distant future. Here’s to hoping the new systems take off.

About the Author

is a working father in New York City by way of Sarasota, Florida. He is a public transportation enthusiast, clean air advocate, lifetime recycler and frequent panderer. He also reluctantly tended to his family’s compost heap for many formative years. He hopes to one day leave his daughter with a safer, healthier environment than when she was born – which shouldn’t be hard since she was born in Queens, New York.

  • AaronD12

    Pretty sad that an airplane customer has to create these solutions, rather than the airplane manufacturer. Boeing! Airbus! Where is your leadership here?

    • Steve Hanley

      Having just returned from an international expedition, I can attest to the typical aircraft spending lots of time on the apron waiting for a gate to open or for a slot it the takeoff queue.

      All that time, the jet engines are idling as speeds that waste fuel. Moving planes around by electric propulsion on the ground makes a lot of sense to me.

  • James

    Hydrogen under high pressure in an airplane. What could possibly go wrong?
    Do not fly in one of these. Ever

    • super390

      In fact, during the era of research on jet engines fueled by hydrogen, designs showed the liquid hydrogen fuel stored in a separate tank mounted above the fuselage. Burning H2 is lighter than air, so if anything happened the plane itself would survive. Since the engines can switch fuels, you could keep a small supply of traditional fuel in the wings to get to safety. Using hydrogen in aircraft makes a lot more sense than in cars.

      • James

        Hydrogen becomes a liquid at 20 degrees Kelvin or minus 430 degrees F. Compensate for low temperature by also putting it under extremely high pressure. With lousy energy density hydrogen and catastrophic consequences of container failure or ignition of vented hydrogen, hydrogen is DOA for conventional jet propulsion