CEO and Founder of Kirkland (Zunum Aero based in Washington), Ashish Kumar is all set to develop hybrid planes in the US. A mechanical engineer and IIT Delhi graduate, Ashish is looking forward to develop a regional hybrid-electric aircraft that will have a range of up to 1,600 km by 2030.
He hopes to sell the same planes in India for regional flights of up to 1,100 km by early 2020s. Talking about the project, Ashish said that the project is being supported by Boeing and JetBlue and powered by JetBlue Technology Ventures subsidiary.
He further added that the first phase of the project will be to develop a sub-20 seater hybrid aircraft. The first prototype is expected to start flying within two years while the commercial production will begin in the early 2020s.
Talking about the features of the planes, Ashish added that these hybrid planes will be cheaper for airlines to operate. These planes will not fly at the same height as commercial aircraft. Ashish also informed that the speed of these planes will be slower but they will have the ability to land at airstrips closer to the destination. This feature will reduce the door-to-door time for passengers, he added.
Zunum Aero was founded in 2013 and is currently developing a series of commercial hybrid-to-electric aircraft for the purpose of regional transit. These aircraft will comprise quiet range-optimized powertrain as well as propulsion technologies.
With the aircraft industry comprising planes driven by gas turbines that fly large distances, there is a huge transportation gap over regional distances. To balance the concentration of flights at airports, hybrid propulsion technology can be used to start mid-sized aircraft on regional routes to enhance the cost-effectiveness of the industry.
Ashish completed his Ph.D. in mechanical and aerospace engineering from the prestigious Cornell University. With his company, he aims to start 1,000-mile electric air networks to provide fast and inexpensive travel to members of all communities.