Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Great Electric Airplane Race

Miles O'Brien was our host for the popular NOVA episode, Chasing Carbon Zero. A few years ago, he put this episode together. O'Brien is a pilot who owns a plane he enjoys flying. Aviation presents an especially acute problem in our efforts to decarbonize transportation. This is the story of those who thrive on this acute engineering problem. Impressive innovations are being made. But progress is hard-earned, and there seems to be a long runway ahead of us before this technology can truly take flight. [You know I wouldn't be able to resist.]

Great Electric Airplane Race at TPT
Can new emission-free electric planes replace our polluting airliners and revolutionize personal transportation in our cities? NOVA takes you for a ride in some impressive prototypes that are already in the air, from speedy single-seat planes that can take off like a helicopter but are half as noisy to  “self-flying” air taxis that are already taking passengers on test flights in Chinese cities. But if electric airplanes are ever to advance beyond small, short-haul craft, significant hurdles of battery weight, energy storage, and cooling remain to be overcome. How long will it be before the dream of super-quiet, super-efficient airliners becomes a reality?

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