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Zero-Emissions Passenger Plane HER0 Could Be the Tesla of the Skies
Air travel accounts for 2.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions so the pressure is huge on airline companies to come up with more sustainable aircraft and better, greener alternatives for short-haul flights.

Zero-Emissions Passenger Plane HER0 Could Be the Tesla of the Skies

HER0 concept passenger plane: zero emissions, with focus on efficiencyHER0 concept passenger plane: zero emissions, with focus on efficiencyHER0 concept passenger plane: zero emissions, with focus on efficiencyHER0 concept passenger plane: zero emissions, with focus on efficiencyHER0 concept passenger plane: zero emissions, with focus on efficiencyHER0 concept passenger plane: zero emissions, with focus on efficiencyHER0 concept passenger plane: zero emissions, with focus on efficiencyHER0 concept passenger plane: zero emissions, with focus on efficiencyHER0 concept passenger plane: zero emissions, with focus on efficiency
HER0 could be one such alternative. The spelling is not a typo: there’s a zero instead of an “o” in the name. HER0 is a concept plane from New York-based designer Joe Doucet, who came up with the idea for a zero-emissions passenger plane while flying for work and feeling very guilty about it.

Recent figures have shown that, while the aviation industry is not as bad at pollution as the meat industry and the auto industry, it could do with improvement. Doucet came up with the idea of achieving progress by looking at the past for inspiration. His HER0 concept is a propeller plane, with the only difference that, unlike with older planes, on his, the propellers push the aircraft, not pull it.

Because it wouldn’t be powered by a jet engine, HER0 would be less efficient than its current counterparts, but Doucet was focused on efficiency and not speed when designing it. In other words, he willingly traded off speed for a cleaner air.

“Current solutions to air travel, although expedient, are less than ideal for the planet. Carbon emissions from plane travel, focused as they are in the upper atmosphere, are considered amongst the greatest contributors to global warming,”
Doucet says.

“The plane's innovative design and material composition work together to minimize weight and maximize aerodynamics, allowing the electric engines to achieve required minimums in distance and duration for flight times,” he explains. “Every aspect of in-flight travel has also been considered, with sustainability at the core of refreshments and service offerings.”

Each of the three massive propellers would be battery-powered or maybe the plane itself could house solar or wind generators that would kick in when the battery ran out. However, Doucet tells the Fast Company that, because it would be 20 percent slower than engine-powered planes, HER0 would be ideal for short-haul flights. This way, the added minutes to a flight wouldn’t feel like an eternity: 24 minutes to a 2-hour flight, for example.

For other people who, like himself, need to travel by plane but want to do it in a more responsible way, the trade-off wouldn’t be insurmountable. This is just one of the reasons why the publication dubs this concept plane a potential “Tesla of the skies.”

Doucet chose to have the propellers push the plane rather than pull it, after studying propeller placement schools of thought. He says propellers that push marginally optimize fuel efficiency, while those that pull optimize speed.

Also with efficiency in mind, Doucet moved the wings higher up on the body of the plane and towards the rear. He imagines HER0 could simply glide towards a safe landing in case of an electrical emergency.

At this point, we should also note that Doucet is not an aeronautical engineer and doesn’t have experience in the field. Neither is he pretending to have designed a fully functional, absolutely perfect electric, zero-emissions plane. In fact, he doesn’t even dare to assume his concept will ever move past the stage it’s currently at.

However, Doucet did do his research and he knows the importance of forward, innovative thinking in terms of tackling as serious a problem as the ongoing climate crisis. His only hope is that HER0 will inspire other, more experienced designers to come up with new ideas that will actually be put into practice.

“It’s a conceptual billboard that [is designed to] arrest people for a moment,” he tells the publication. “At its lowest point of impact, it would make people question, ‘Why aren’t there electric commuter planes?’ At the highest impact, producers of short-haul flights, everyone from Airbus and Boeing to your Bombardiers and Gulfstreams, [are realizing that] beginning an R&D program might be of medium- and long-term interest to their businesses.”

 
 
 
 
 

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