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 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.