March 21, 2017
Josh Constine, Techcrunch.com
Gas is the biggest cost for airlines. The easiest way to reduce these costs? Don’t use gas at all. That was the pitch from Wright Electric, a startup building a commercial passenger plane that runs on batteries and can handle flights under 300 miles. These short-haul trips make up 30 percent of all flights and is a $26 billion market.
Today Wright Electric gave its first preview to the world at Y Combinator’s Demo Day, where Silicon Valley’s most prestigious startup accelerator puts its new companies in front of investors. Wright Electric announced it’s building a 150-seat plane to disrupt the 737 market. It’s struck a partnership with budget British airline EasyJet, which could put its design in the air. And it even showed off its own electric plane in the parking lot.
“This is one of best hard tech teams I’ve seen,” said Michael Seibel, the head of Y Combinator’s accelerator program. Wright Electric hired a team that had been previously funded by NASA to investigate the potential for electric planes, which its co-founder Jeff Engler says puts the startup years ahead of the competition.