Electric planes are taking off across the globe

STORY: From all-electric aircraft Alice taking off in Washington State

to electric seaplanes gliding over Boston waters

or a battery-powered plane taking to Italy's skies ...

a global race is on to develop electric planes.

‘’We were able to witness history in the making.’’

About 200 companies are looking at electric aviation, representing hope for the aviation industry that’s lagging behind others when it comes to tackling carbon emissions.

In September 2022, U.S. aviation company Eviation Aircraft debuted its all-electric aircraft.

The plane, named Alice, flew for 8 minutes, reaching an altitude of 3,500 feet,and peaking at 149 knots – about 170 miles per hour.

By being electric, the plane requires some charge on the ground.

Eviation President and CEO Gregory Davis:

"We're targeting a design criteria of 35 minutes for a charge. And so that'll be the charge for the typical route length. It's actually, as I just said, it's actually a design point. So going back to the comment I made earlier of designing batteries for aircraft, it's, one of the considerations is how quickly do you want it to charge, how much power do you want to be able to draw from it?"

Alice's flight is the latest in a growing global race to develop electric planes.

The aviation sector accounts for about 2.8% of global CO2 emissions.

What is more worrying is that emissions from flying have risen by 2% a year since the turn of the century and they could reach a fifth of total emissions by 2050.

As the global economy slowly but surely shifts to a lower-carbon model, the aviation sector has been lagging behind.

The prospect of electric flight is appealing in many ways and can help speed up decarbonization in a growing sector.

A number of manufacturers are developing electric aircraft, including Siemens, Airbus and Rolls-Royce.

United Airlines plans to have electric aircraft in service by 2026.

This all-electric seaplane, for example, aims to bridge the gap between ferries and aircraft, offering high-speed coastal transport with zero-emissions.

Its developer Regional Electric Ground Effect Nautical Transport says seagliders could offer the aviation industry the first truly sustainable commercial airliner.

Billy Thalheimer is CEO and co-founder of REGENT.

“So we've seen very strong customer interest, both from the airline industry and from the ferry industry. You know, we sort of bridge the gap and both. We represent a vehicle that is an order of magnitude faster than ferries, 6 to 10 times faster than ferries and half the cost of an aircraft. And it beats the door-to-door time on both and completely eliminates emissions. So customers on both air and sea side of the house have been very interested.”