Forget getting Teslas as Ubers or zipping around town on electric scooters – aviation experts agree that Australians will be able to travel on electric aircraft from 2024…


While things might seem a bit doom and gloom at the moment – the world just went through a massive pandemic, monkeypox is running rampant and Australia’s recently faced detrimental flooding, with more to come – there have actually been some incredible advances in technology lately.

For example, regular joes (with a spare $50,000) can soon travel to space, and Australians will be able to fly on electric aircraft, which will produce far fewer carbon emissions than your average passenger plane, from as early as 2024 – at least according to aviation experts.

Rex Airlines have announced that it’s going to retrofit some of its planes with electric-propulsion engines and will be the first Australian airline to trial the new technology on selected commercial regional flights.

“We will be doing trials in 2024, with a real aircraft, where we’ll swap out the existing engine, which burns jet fuel… we’ll put in an electric motor that will be supported by a combination of both batteries and hydrogen,” John Sharp, Rex’s Deputy Chairman, told ABC News.

“Between the batteries and the hydrogen, the electric motor will drive the aeroplane through the air and get you from A to B.”

John Sharp, Rex Airlines Deputy Chairman

The first Australian electric plane, Pipistrel’s Alpha Electro (pictured above), took off in 2019. Image Credit: Richard Charlton

And it’s not just Rex getting in on the electric action. Keith Tonkin, managing director of Aviation Projects, also spoke to ABC News, sharing that multiple Australian airlines and aircraft manufacturers are developing and investing in electric aircraft. Tonkin also believes that within two years, Australians will have the option to fly on electric aircraft for short trips.

“The technology is working. It’s been proven in trial flight, and we can do a lot in two years.”

Keith Tonkin, Aviation Projects Managing Director

Centre for Aviation Chairman Emeritus Peter Harbison agrees, and further added that while electric aircraft won’t be capable of travelling long distances anytime soon, short flights will definitely be an option in the not too distant future.

“The problem with electric operations in aircraft is that they basically rely on batteries, and batteries are heavy. If you wanted to fuel an A380 for a long-haul flight, you need a battery that weighed something like 500 tonnes, which is more than the weight of the aircraft itself at the moment.”

“But on smaller, shorter sectors, it is going to be possible quite soon… within the next two to five years, to have aircraft that can operate short-haul on electric power.”

Peter Harbison, Centre for Aviation Chairman Emeritus

It’s unclear at this stage whether fares for electric aircraft flights will be more expensive than fares for regular aircraft flights but considering that electric cars are currently more expensive than those that guzzle petrol, it may be a likely possibility… At least in the short to medium term.

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