Streamlined and elegant, with two long wings situated at the rear, this looks like a gas-guzzling super jet built for criss-crossing the planet with scant regard for environmental impact.
In fact, it’s the design for electric passenger airplane that strives for efficiency, sustainability and glamor. The concept aircraft is the work of New-York based designer Joe Doucet, who was inspired by his frequent business travel short-haul flights to produce something capable of making the journey without producing typical aviation engine emissions.
Doucet’s design, the Her0 Zero Emissions Airplane uses electric-powered propellers located at its rear to provide the thrust, while sweeping wings that end in large, upturned winglets, provide the lift.
Her0 is one of several electric jet concepts that have premiered in recent years, as the aviation industry grapples with how to continue to grow while also trying to reduce its environmental impact.
This Her0 blueprint, Doucet tells CNN Travel, has both practical and aesthetic purpose. Propellers, he says, are reliable and efficient. The trade off is a slightly longer flight time — about 20% — but the designer reckons this wouldn’t be an issue on short or medium haul flights.
As for the swept-back wing design, this is to ensures the airplane’s well balanced — most of the weight will be in the back of the aircraft, as that’s where the battery will be situated.
Aesthetically speaking, Doucet says he wanted the plane to look “somewhat futuristic” but also be an attractive travel option for fliers.
“If you can make this something that is desirable, something that makes people question why it’s not there, you have a better chance of forcing the hand of industry to respond to consumer demand,” he says.
In December 2019, the first fully commercial electric plane completed a test flight in Canada. As well as new designs — such as Airbus’ dramatic “bird of prey” concept airplane — some aviation companies are also looking into ways of converting existing aircraft into electric, or hybrid-electric vehicles, to minimize environmental impact of short-haul flights.
UK-based Cranfield Aerospace Solution has set itself a mission to convert a nine-seat Britten-Norman airplane into the UK’s first all-electric powered aircraft.
Doucet describes himself as a “designer, entrepreneur, inventor and creative director” — but he’s not an aeronautical engineer, and this his first foray into the world of aviation.
The designer says he drew upon his years of frequent flying in an attempt to find a solution to an issue that he’d been considering for some time. “I really follow problems where they take me, and try to address the solutions elegantly,” he says.
Her0, Doucet acknowledges, may never see the light of day. But the designer’s sole goal is to open up a conversation, if interest around his design encourages progress towards electric planes, he’ll count it as a success. As it is, he’s already been approached from aviation engineers, suggesting improvements and discussing potential collaboration.