Last year, city skies all over the world witnessed flights of Solar Impulse‘s innovative aircraft. Powered entirely by solar energy, it crossed 40,000 square kilometers while producing zero emissions. As a next step towards independence from non-renewable energy, Solar Impulse’s co-founder, André Borschberg, launched a new venture to produce airplanes with certified electric propulsion. “What is science fiction today will be reality of tomorrow,” Borschberg said.
After building two Solar Impulse airplanes capable of flying day and night without fuel, Borschberg co-founded his new company H55, which focuses on the entire propulsion chain, including energy source/management, thrust, power, pilot interface and all control systems. Borschberg’s team at H55 has tested its electric demonstrator aircraft, aEro1, and has successfully flown more than 50 hours with a battery endurance exceeding more than one hour.
“Electric air transport will undoubtedly disrupt the aviation industry,” Borschberg said. “15 years ago, when I started with Solar Impulse, electric propulsion was anecdotal. Today is a major development path of every large aeronautical organization as well as attracting many startups and new players.”
Electric airplanes are highly efficient and light, which H55 describes as key advantages in the world of transportation. Due to the software’s flexibility and reliability, innovative designs such as VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) are made possible.
Furthermore, electric airplanes are cost-efficient and considerably less expensive to operate than traditional aircraft. And there’s even more advantages: aircraft equipped with electric propulsion produce much less noise and no environmental footprints.
H55 efforts go in line with the global movement against non-renewable energy and greenhouse gas emissions. From shutting down coal mines in Germany, to creating spaces dedicated to urban farming in Shanghai, the world is moving fast towards a future with zero greenhouse gas emissions.
At the Paris climate conference, COP21 (December 2015), a total of 195 countries adopted the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal. The Paris Agreement sets out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C.
The roles of city, regional and local authorities are to scale up efforts and support actions to reduce emissions, as well as to build resilience and decrease vulnerability to the adverse effects of climate change or, in other words, to decrease dependency on non-renewable energy and uphold and promote regional and international cooperation.