Why Electric Planes are Inevitably Coming 

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Writing by Sam Denby
Research by Sam Denby and Tristan Purdy
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Animation by Josh Sherrington
Sound by Graham Haerther
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Select footage courtesy the AP Archive

[1] www.airport-technology.com/fe...
[2] www.airnav.com/fuel/local.html; www.iata.org/en/publications/...
[3] www.regulations.gov/document/...
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Jun 16, 2021




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Comments 4 490   
1,000,000 likes 12 hours ago
I need the transcript of this video for my paper lol
LoveStrangeDr 19 hours ago
Great video! Basically in the future it’s quite possible you’ll be able to fly to work from one city to another because cost will be so cheap 😮
Vita Vel Nex
Vita Vel Nex 2 days ago
And it really does nothing to help carbon emissions, majority of power produced in the US is coal. So it's a coal powered airplane that'll add 40-80 mins to your short haul flight compared to a JetBlue flight. So it's a lose lose for the consumer really lol.
apollo james
apollo james 2 days ago
This is misleading / disingenuous. Of your videos this is the least accurate. The historical electric aircraft you quote were small and are not scaleable. Solar is problematic (does not work at night). The energy density problem is enormously difficult to solve; and to suggest that financial investment will fix it is not correct. We also are yet to find a solution to the rare earth minerals required for large scale battery production. Not your best video imo.
snack881 3 days ago
Batteries just aren't energy-dense enough, and electric propulsion contains no combustion, which makes supersonic flight more or less impossible. Consider bio-methane. It's made from methane that comes off landfill, which means it would have been emitted to the environment anyway. But instead, you're harnessing it, and burning it in an engine to turn into CO2. CO2 is 30 times less harmful, in a global warming sense, than methane. That means that if planes find a way to use bio-methane, every one that flies can have a net global warming contribution of -3000%.
Simmlex 3 days ago
Not likely unfortunately. The batteries currently are too heavy for making an electric plane commercially viable. Same thing as the concord really. It'd take too much money to properly fuel it for "long distance" and it wouldn't even be long distance really because the batteries would run out way too quick.
Matthew Bradley
Matthew Bradley 4 days ago
There is only one doubt in my mind about electric airplanes. Airlines are going to charge the same as a normal flight for an electric flight and they are going to keep doing that. So until someone comes along with cheap electric flights, electric planes are not going anywhere. And I really hope someone does.
Technical Racoon
Technical Racoon 4 days ago
That looks like the Wendover logo at 2:08
Ara Era
Ara Era 4 days ago
There’s probably a way to get around being less energy dense by making designs that uses less energy. Most commercial planes are basically just tubes with fins, there’s got to be a more lift efficient design out there
Parth Jain
Parth Jain 4 days ago
electric planes who would have thought
TJ Heath
TJ Heath 6 days ago
The shortest flight is between two islands near Scotland.
Luke McCrory
Luke McCrory 7 days ago
Please Stop speaking like this at the end of every sentence It gets annoying really quickly
rainy-day-blues 9 days ago
what city is this 01:56
indyola 9 days ago
The cost of the electricity is FAR from negligible. Ignoring the extra weight of carrying empty or partially discharged batteries (used petro fuel is gone overboard), a kilowatt of electricity costs about 13.9 cents in the US. A gallon of gasoline provides about 34 kW of energy in actual use. (The best lithium batteries are about 90% efficient under ideal charging and discharging conditions). So we do that math: 34 kWh of output from a battery requires about 37.5 kWh of electricity IN to charge the battery. Multiply this by 13.9 cents per kWh and you get is bit over $5.25 per equivalent of 1 gallon of gas. Aviation gasoline averages $4.73 in those same areas. Saying that savings are being made by not purchasing gas, while asserting that the electricity cost is negligible is just wrong. The electricity costs 10% MORE than the gasoline that does the same job.
indyola 9 days ago
At 12:24 you say "fuel costs would be almost entirely eliminated." Nope. The fuel costs go up. Electricity costs more than gasoline in nearly all markets. (Most electricity is still made by burning petro fuels so it has to cost more.) Most trains in the US burn diesel fuel to generate electricity to run the electric motors to propel the train. And you will need more than just propulsion electricity. You will also need electric heaters to keep the plane, its batteries and the passengers from freezing.
Ace Hearts
Ace Hearts 9 days ago
But where does the electricity come from? Carbon-fueled power plants, I am sure.
Tom 10 days ago
electricity is not free, not even close. The plane for Eviation is rated at 815km of range with a 980kWh battery so if they operate their 1365 flights and assuming they go perfectly in a straight line and never consume any more then the rated power they will travel 1365 times 250km while requiring at least 1.2kWh per km which ends up being ~410.000 kWh of electricity. Now they question is how much are they gonna pay for it given that they not only need much but they also need to fast charge so we can safely assume it will be more expensive then residential prices lets just go with 30 cents/kWh and we end up with roughly $123.000 in electricity cost AT BEST. that is hardly even close to be zero. Sure its a saving if we assume everything else is equal but we also know its not so the math changes quite a bit.
Wanga Manda
Wanga Manda 10 days ago
Hydrogen makes more sense
Tianyuan Liu
Tianyuan Liu 10 days ago
There is a surprisingly low amount of discussion regarding electric generation. No use having all appliances become electric when the generation of power are still largely based on fossil fuel combustion.
ENCHANTMEN 10 days ago
I'm guessing there's a good reason why they aren't in use, but has anyone looked into hydrogen-powered jets?
Ruben BA
Ruben BA 12 days ago
Interesting but all this has negligeable impact. If serious about climate change, make a video on nuclear power.
TheYovero 12 days ago
I hope you don't think they are going to carry batteries. Apart from those things being fucking insanely heavy compared to kerosene, which would make the plane barely flyable, I would like to remind you of the tesla cars that spontaneously start to burn. And to top it of. Electric aircraft fly on fossil fuel you have to keep open only transferring the problem from the airplane to the powerplant which is even more stupid because an electric airplane would require far more energy for the same route. Here an idea for short range travel. Use a fucking train!
Jashan Preet
Jashan Preet 13 days ago
Great Content 😊❤️
david schweiter
david schweiter 13 days ago
Until we have a battery breakthrough, we won't have electric plans taking over.
Greg Yellenik
Greg Yellenik 13 days ago
I think Harbour Air in British Columbia is using electric engines in their old Beaver floatplanes.
Mike Pearson / Engineering
Can you start speaking and stop singing?
MATTCRAZTEX 13 days ago
Lets not forget that the more climate change happens the more aggressive storms we will get, And planes don't fly very well in storms.
paul 13 days ago
Useless premis, carbon dioxide is not our enemy, battery rare materials are running out, physics wins, not profit or policy, mass electric aviation is a foolish pursuit. Do some more research, and please stop saying carbon emissions, carbon footprint, if you actually mean carbon dioxide ! Words matter.
Brick Life
Brick Life 14 days ago
In China a lot of shorter domestic trips are already using the bullet train network. Saves a lot of time
m14wdotcom 14 days ago
11:43 boarding ticket for the company using oil: $83. At 14:48 $100,62 of profit per passenger for company using electricity. Ok, as long as the customers of the company using electricity are reading to pay more for their tickets. If the whole market becomes electric, you are no gonna have this marging....
Tim Grabarczyk
Tim Grabarczyk 14 days ago
You forgot to mention that massless batteries (batteries that do not add weight, but are incorporated as part of the structure).
Michael 15 days ago
I love how everything electric is sooooo great and has 0 carbon emissions. Yaaaaay. When taking in consideration how the electricity is produced most electric cars use about 3 litres of petrol equivalent per 100 kilometers. I'm not sure if I get it but that's not 0, that's not even a lot less than what many normal cars do.
congoose100 15 days ago
if the goal is global net reduction of carbon dioxide production, focus on the "global" aspect and lowest hanging fruit. Reduction of these emissions where battery density is not a primary design constraint would be a good start. Considering reduction in surface travel 10% would probably reset the Carbon clock 15 years.
Samuel J. Martin III
I’m curious as to the average distance that eviation (great name) electric plane can cover❓🛩 Especially versus a similarly sized (passengers) plane⁉️ ✈️🆚🛩
Jackson Crocker
Jackson Crocker 17 days ago
My town is in a wendover video!
Ryan Wilson
Ryan Wilson 17 days ago
The narrator sounds like TheWalrusStreet.
Paul Freet
Paul Freet 17 days ago
Great video. But, what do bio fuels have to do with climate change?
Lone Star
Lone Star 17 days ago
What happens if you run out of juice in the middle of the flight.
Lone Star
Lone Star 17 days ago
Do people care about there Carbon Footprint?? Because i don't know anybody who really dose.
Crushonius 18 days ago
12:25 electricity is so cheap its cost is negligible so you just go ahead and eliminate all the cost ????? REALLY ?????? how the hell do you know that you have no specifics how much the electric plane will consume . this is quite literally the worst video you have ever created . in electric cars the cost for traveling a 100 km is roughly 40 percent cheaper compared to petrol and 10 - 20 percent cheaper than diesel if you are slow charging at home . however if you are fast charging you pay double per kwh on average which makes electric cars the most expensive . Now knowing all this information how do you decide to just eliminate 844000 dollars yearly fuel cost the least you could have done is maybe half the number or something . also you did not address the problem with battery degradation and the cost involved in exchanging them is the battery going to last a couple years or maybe you go through a couple batteries every year whatever the case the cost for batteries absolutely needs to be considered because it might be a huge expense . But no this video is just a big ol happy utopia where electricity is free and we have magic batteries ... what a complete joke
Alpha Geminorum
Alpha Geminorum 18 days ago
ZPM. That's the answer. I saw it on SG-1. With a ZPM or using naquadria this entire issue is moot.
Derek Hendricks
Derek Hendricks 19 days ago
Mr. Nebulous... I am surprised that you did not analyze the benefits of using solid-state batteries in the context of short-range air-flight . Smaller size , higher energy-density , greater durability , and far shorter turn- around times (Roll-on-Roll-off batteries) would all help electric airplanes to operate on a competitive basis , within the short-range transport industry . *Ref.: dragonflyenergy.com/solid-state-battery ^ Scroll down to "Benefits of Solid-State".
Derek Hendricks
Derek Hendricks 19 days ago
*.In addition : To read a more complete analysis , read my Post on Quora : /Will-electrically-propelled-airplanes-be-able-to-reach-the-speed-of-current-commercial-airliners/ 😎
Виктор Фирсов
You are just wrong. Batteries a are just too heavy. Only way planes go electric is if they use electricity to produce hydrogen and then fly on that.
Max Mckee
Max Mckee 18 days ago
Batteries get better, And it's only for short range flights
Bob Daye
Bob Daye 19 days ago
The energy density will never match hydrocarbons.
A.J. Camacho
A.J. Camacho 19 days ago
Seeing the Continental Express plane at 4:24 really took me back about 10 years, lol
Jack Ford
Jack Ford 19 days ago
The fallacious lisa neurologically nod because hardcover precisely race down a adamant alarm. cruel, noiseless screen
Sbeve 19 days ago
The amount of people here taking a dump on electric transport and batteries is pretty sad actually. Instead of immediately shutting down this progress, we need to recognize it for what it is... A stepping stone to eventual achievements. As we progress, issues such as price of battery production, range, recharge time, recycling, longevity, etc. will all be addressed. No great technology started off perfect. We can't just accept failure and continue to do things the way we do now simply because we haven't achieved perfection yet.
xenor 19 days ago
"electricity is basically free" - good old america... here a stupid kWh costs about 33ct
Matthew Erspamer
Matthew Erspamer 19 days ago
Aircraft batteries sound terrible for the environment.
SephirothRyu 20 days ago
Metal-Air batteries are among the best options for energy density, but at a cost of being difficult to "recharge." There is, however, also another possibility. Fusion power. It won't happen any time soon, mind you, but Lockheed is working on a reactor concept that would be small enough to power a large aircraft.
Thay Ray
Thay Ray 20 days ago
Could you do a video explaining what's up with this guy 16:56?
mothertruckers paradise
Nothing is inevitable
Paul 20 days ago
But wouldn‘t an airplane take forever to charge?
Max Mckee
Max Mckee 18 days ago
No Thanks
No Thanks 20 days ago
This sounds like some communist bullshit. No thanks, dude.
Max Mckee
Max Mckee 18 days ago
You don't even know what communism is
Thinking 18_81
Thinking 18_81 21 day ago
I think that the background music in your video is too much and disturbs from listening to the speaker.
Boeing 747-8
Boeing 747-8 21 day ago
Future of cars and airplanes isnt electrical It's hydrogenic Lithium is unecological and much worther than gasoline That's why tesla is unecoligal shit (I like how elon musk and others gonna lose our planet ecology naming it "ecological")
Patrick Teddy
Patrick Teddy 21 day ago
what is the point of electric aircraft since the electricity used to charge them comes from fossil fuels they probbably have the same emissions overall if not more not worth the price
Max Mckee
Max Mckee 18 days ago
Because green energy is growing fast. Becoming more cost effective
My Name
My Name 21 day ago
Saying that electric is so low that it is basically free is when I change the channel. Sounds like your going the way with the rest of the libtards and pushing electric with fake news.
BluDeuce 21 day ago
we cant phase out fossil fuels renewables cannot power the world
Andrew 21 day ago
14:30 haha it doesn't sound correct bc it isn't
「CELLO KID」 22 days ago
My flying club doesn't want to buy the pipistrel velis, even though it's by far the best buy for our situation. Stupid conservatives
alexleanh 22 days ago
Talking too much, get to the point!
Doggo Man
Doggo Man 22 days ago
Government: WE HATE CARBON!!! Also Government: Has Airforce One that emits lots of carbon
Matt Mansell
Matt Mansell 22 days ago
Another big idea in aviation! Maybe a good episode on how many flops their has been in aviation. Probably wouldn't fit your 20 minute window.
Dane Shipway
Dane Shipway 22 days ago
Something you overlooked is aluminium air batterys which have extremely high energy density but are not used because they are not rechargeable and have to be recycled. Wouldnt the aviation industry be perfect fro such a battery. U fly land drop the battery get a new one then fly again 20 minutes later. Meanwhile the old battery is recycled broken down and turned back into a new battery
S C 22 days ago
"electrical jet engine" )))))
Andro-Ace Bunny
Andro-Ace Bunny 23 days ago
Funny. If the algorithm is hampering with access to videos being over 15 minutes long, it's hardly doing it all that much. This video goes over 15 minutes and it works perfectly well for me. But anyways, you guys have made quite an intriguing insight into the potential future of the airline industry. Keep up the good work over there.
Brian S
Brian S 23 days ago
Unfortunately the technology isn't even close to making battery-electric really viable. Bjorn Fehrm today came out with an analysis of a theorhetical 19-seat commuter aircraft on a 200nm route. Even accounting for a 56% improvement in battery energy-density he writes: "...instead of 628kg jet fuel, where 320kg gets consumed during the flight, we have a constant 8,847kg battery system. The electric energy is 14.09 times heavier for the maximum range flight for the electric airliner. It’s a devastating difference for an aircraft, making it practically impossible to design an aircraft with any reasonable performance around this excess weight." The article's for free on Leeham News and Analysis.
Brian S
Brian S 23 days ago
When can we get there? Bjorn Fehrm calculates "The finding is the battery energy density has to climb above 1kWh per kg to change this, and we are today some 600% from this point." Bummer.
Jotaro Joestar Kujo
A nuclear plane would be cool too Kinda like a nuclear submarine but in the air
Max Bakken
Max Bakken 23 days ago
Ah so the government will price out middle and low income family’s from flying. Sounds right
Octopus Goodness
Octopus Goodness 23 days ago
Why not use hydrogen aircraft? It might even be possible to make hydrogen jet engines, though as far as I'm aware no ones working on it yet.
Jozef Behran
Jozef Behran 23 days ago
Another reason why airlines might care about "going green" is expected legal obligations. If a country decides to force any business to reduce its carbon footprint to a relatively low amount and an airline is not prepare for such a change, it might go under from all the capital expenditure required to bring their fleet up to the code. Thus "caring for the planet" now allows the airlines to test drive projects, evaluate changes, do research and optimize the transition while the proven but "not green enough" business model is still available as a fallback shall cashflow go awry.
Jozef Behran
Jozef Behran 23 days ago
Another idea that these airplanes could exploit would be batteries being installed and removed by robots. That would enable few optimizations. 1. No need to have the entire aircraft grounded while recharging it or stressing the batteries with fast charge (or a combination of both). Just have the robot swap depleted cells with freshly charged and charge the depleted cells slowly in some warehouse, prolonging their lifespan. Also meshes well with renewable but unreliable sources of electricity - instead of pumping the energy into one set of cells fist (power grid storage) and then from that into another set of cells (the airplane's onboard cells), you can have the cells as a part of the smart grid, being fed with the renewable energy as it is produced and just load them into the airplane as needed. 2. Cells going weak? With this setup you can discover this while charging when the cell is outside of the aircraft so it can be readily swapped with a working one and recycled. No need to wait for the aircraft to land or have it wait while a technician scouts its battery for the flawed cell. 3. Going on a short trip? Put in less batteries than the full compliment, meaning less weight. In fact, the place where the airplane is standing while embarking and disembarking could be equipped with a scale so the robots could immediately know how much weight is going to be lugged around and size the battery accordingly. Load a little extra to account for emergencies and you are all set. 4. The fact that charging is no longer done in the airplane means no need to lug the charger and charging circuitry around. Similar for "cell health monitoring" as now the cells are "discharge only" so the charging part of this logic can also stay our of the airplane. 5. This form of "robot replaceable batteries" could be adopted by the electric vehicles too. That would allow the technology to be developed and polished in this far less demanding context before placing it into the demanding world of airplanes.
Jozef Behran
Jozef Behran 23 days ago
There is another reason: electric aircraft like this could enable routes not possible before. Like connecting mountain towns to the rest of the country. It is prohibitively expensive to build sensible roads or railroads to these places due to the complicated and often treacherous terrain. Classic internal combustion powered airplanes have a problem because the runway they need to comfortably access these places is equally impossible to build (see the Lukla airport which has a runway that is anything but comfortable to access). With Vertical Take Off and Landing it would be easier but swinging an internal combustion engine around to allow this would make the already complicated design even more complicated (you know, all these high pressure fuel hoses and stuff like that). On the other hand the super simple electric engine with equally simple power cables could accommodate the VTOL much easier. This means no complicated runways needed, just a flat place with size not that much bigger than the airplane itself. With the airplanes being relatively small (and thus also light) it could be built right on the roof of the airport building.
Jozef Behran
Jozef Behran 23 days ago
3:31 And don't forget to combine that with the fact that in France "train" usually means "high speed rail". This is not your typical Amtrak route and its slowness, this is the "whisking people around at 200 MPh" kind of train.
Jozef Behran
Jozef Behran 23 days ago
2:45 Exactly.
Danny Mongrain
Danny Mongrain 24 days ago
As much as Would like planes to go electric, I doubt that will ever work. Bjorn Fehrm explains it very well. In short, batteries are so heavy that the takeoff and range performances suffers too much. Adding batteries doesn't help as the airplane weight goes beyond its capabilities. We would need battery technology to be 5x or 10x more performing (5x to 10x more energy for same weight). When would that be possible, if ever? leehamnews.com/2021/07/08/the-true-cost-of-electric-aircraft-part-2/?.it&
Pavle Perišić-Spasić
Why electric planes are coming? Long Answer: Short Answer: Oil is running out
RenchesAndSords 24 days ago
electric vehicles are so MECHANICALLY simple, that word matters, ask my Electromagnetics grade how I know
JTHockey55 Gaming
JTHockey55 Gaming 24 days ago
“I’m ˢᵘᵇˢᶜʳᶦᵇᶦⁿᵍ ᵗᵒ ᵉᵛᵉʳʸᵒⁿᵉ ʷʰᵒ ˢᵘᵇˢᶜʳᶦᵇᵉˢ ᵗᵒ ᵐᵉ ʷ/ⁿᵒᵗⁱˢ ᵒⁿ .🔔 🔔
Armchair warrior
Armchair warrior 24 days ago
Battery range and weight. Will not work with Planes, unless they some how magically shrink the battery to tiny sizes and gets the same range as gas.
123 ABC
123 ABC 24 days ago
It’s pretty simple to see the reason companies care about climate change lmao. It’s all profit and pretending to give a shit helps people choose them over competition.
Max Mckee
Max Mckee 18 days ago
No. No one really cares about carbon emissions if their flying in a plane
Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin 24 days ago
Here after Real Engeneering aeronautic fuel problem video
Alessandro Mele
Alessandro Mele 25 days ago
The first 3 minutes of this video is a dissertation against capitalism.
Orcawhale 25 days ago
Stealbeams everywhere is going to be relieved with this change.
stapuft 25 days ago
"...slow moving..."yep, HARD PASS, the greatest thing about flying is how FAST it is, by eliminating that, you eliminate its primary advantage, and the ONLY REASON that so many short haul flights even exist in the first place, flying is supposed to be FASTER than other modes of travel. not comparable to them. if its only equally as fast as a train, but costs twice as much to fly, imma take the train. end of story.
J. Anthony Lopez
J. Anthony Lopez 25 days ago
This is amazing, because if you look at the history of commercial air travel, this is exactly how many airlines started in the 1920's and 30's with early development of arifoil and ICE power trains. Super cool.
Camp Cookery
Camp Cookery 25 days ago
You’re analysis of non profits not profiting is completely false. The Gates Foundation makes billions off its investments and agenda.
Max Mckee
Max Mckee 18 days ago
Speed 25 days ago
Eh sure, but I'm guessing it'll probably be a few decades before this is the common reality
m14wdotcom 26 days ago
1' yeah ok, make it look like their images have no costs. We are in a society that bets heavily on public relation. They even think that they can control how people are voting just by controlling the things that are showed or not on facebook.
Gordon Wallin
Gordon Wallin 26 days ago
You missed this, another Canadian creation not given much attention.
Bo Duholm
Bo Duholm 26 days ago
I do not think the business case is that strong. If you must ground your plane for an hour because it must recharge. The business case goes away. A TBM 930 has a range of 1500+ miles. Which means they can refuel at night or once a day. That dramatically cuts into the profitability of an electric plane, who has to sit for an hour after a roundtrip.
Maustrian 27 days ago
Interesting video, but the piano music is kind of irritating
Ianto Cannon
Ianto Cannon 27 days ago
Looking up the numbers, electricity is 20c per KWh, and jet fuel is 5c per KWh. I don't see where this "free electricity" claim comes from.
catprog 25 days ago
A KWh of jet fuel produces a lot less thrust then a KWh of electricity.
Rick Rhone
Rick Rhone 27 days ago
i signed up for the curiosity stream/nebula bundle deal. finally. now what should i watch on there? i want the content ive been missing out on when watching veritasium, smartereveryday, etc. not random documentaries about history
PureGero 27 days ago
One of my most favourite videos in a while, nice work. 4th time watching it
Lee Powers
Lee Powers 27 days ago
Ram Air Turbines to charge batteries instead of backup hydraulics?
Our Tube
Our Tube 27 days ago
Why. does he. talk. like. This. Seriously, please stop
thatmrb1 27 days ago
Sounds like he hated the airline industry
chaosXpert 27 days ago
I have a feeling that "electric gliders" will be a more accurate term to describe future aircraft
The Boost
The Boost 27 days ago
make electric airplanes before all cars turn into boring no soul EVs.
Speculations Perceived
Straya will almost never get into electric planes. The nearest airport that has passenger flights from Sydney is either Bathurst or Newcastle, and both are well above 2 hours by train (it's a lot slower than car)
Speculations Perceived
@catprog yes. which is why this rule will never work here
catprog 25 days ago
Sydney to Newcastle : 88 miles Sydney to Bathurst : 95 miles Gold coast to toowoomba: 113 miles. Sydney to Canberra: 147 miles Bosten to Rockland Mayne : 152 miles Sydney to Parkes 179 miles Our trains are much slower then European
4k Channel
4k Channel 28 days ago
one things that you should consider is how efficient the energy being used is. If a coal plant in Africa is 40 percent efficient, the electricity being used is roughly that efficient. But, if the jet fuel burned on the plane is 70 percent efficient, that is better than an electric plane.
4k Channel
4k Channel 28 days ago
Mickey Garcia
Mickey Garcia 28 days ago