EasyJet is working on new high-efficiency battery technology as part of its efforts to research and develop a new generation of zero-emission aircraft, while Virgin Atlantic is exploring new electric-powered vertical take-off and landing technologies.
EasyJet partners Wright Electric has been working on an inverter which converts DC power from batteries to the AC power required by an aircraft’s propulsion system’s electric motors.
EasyJet says the Wright inverter runs at 99.5% efficiency which is a sixfold improvement in heat loss over current inverters. It also has 30 kW/kg power density compared to the usual 10-20 kW/kg.
On a standard single-aisle aircraft, this would result in weight savings equivalent to adding an extra 5-10 passengers per flight.
David Morgan, director of flight operations for the airline, said: "We welcome this latest development as it marks another crucial step forward for our partner Wright Electric on this journey towards the development and introduction of commercial zero-emission aircraft technology which would be a game-changer for short-haul aviation.
"We know it is extremely important to our customers that we operate as sustainably as possible, and everyone at easyJet is committed to collaborating on the development of these new technologies, aiming to be one of the first adopters when they come to market."
Virgin’s partnership with Vertical Aerospace could see the airline purchase 150 eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircraft.
The fully electric VA-X4 is a zero emissions, near silent aircraft with a range of over 100 miles and it will carry four passengers and a pilot.
Shai Weiss, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, said: "With innovation and sustainability leadership firmly in our DNA, we are excited to be partnering with Vertical Aerospace to pioneer sustainable and zero emissions air travel in the UK.
"We pride ourselves on building enduring strategic partnerships and are thrilled to be working alongside Vertical in its mission to being eVTOL travel to the UK."
A full-scale prototype of the VA-X4 is currently in production with the first test flight planned for later this year.