Zunum Aero

Credit: Zunum Aero

A JetBlue-backed private jet company is all set to venture into using hybrid-to-electric planes. Zunum Aero, based in Kirkland, Washington, share an investor in JetBlue together with JetSuite and are rethinking short-distance flights through its investments. The startup recently signed a deal to sell up to 100 of its hybrid-electric-powered planes to private-jet-charter provider JetSuite slated for delivery in 2022.

The Seattle-based startup, Zunum Aero, has a vibrant team of engineers and pilots, who are passionate about high-speed connectivity to every community. Zunum is said to be developing a 12-passenger aircraft that is powered by twin electric-motor-driven fan blades having a conventional fuel-powered engine as a backup. The Tesla-style battery packs would be in the wings of the aircraft. And, the plane is designed for trips of 700 miles at a top cruising speed of 340 miles per hour. President of JetBlue Technology Ventures, Bonny Simi said, they wanted to improve the experience of flights under 1,000 miles, with cheaper-to-operate flights.

Meanwhile, JetSuite based in Irvine, California received further investment from JetBlue and Qatar Airways, which has attributed to strengthening its bond to the private jet company. Apart from which, JetSuiteX, which offers scheduled semi-private service would eventually replace retired Embraer 135 planes with the Zunum planes. Alex Wilcox, JetSuite’s CEO highlighted the potential fuel savings from the hybrid-electric planes.

The electric planes would have 80% lower emissions and lesser noise than the traditional models. Also, the Jets would have a low runway requirement of 2,200 feet for takeoff. The direct cost of $250 per hour is estimated and the savings would trickle down to customers. In the context, Wilcox said that they were expecting to bring even more efficient and environmentally friendly aviation solutions to the private and semi-private jet customers.

Zunum Aero CEO, Ashish Kumar, reiterated that JetSuite who had a tradition of shifting paradigms in aviation was an ideal partner for them in the launch collaboration. He added that they had a shared vision for fundamentally improving the way people live and travel.