The Dutch airline is working extensively on electrically powered aircraft. KLM believes that new business models can become possible thanks to this technology.
It’s a short distance. But it should be the start of something big. This week, KLM and the Electric Flying Connection EFC flew invited guests from Lelystad Airport to Amsterdam-Schipol for two days in a small electric plane in about 30 minutes.
The two partners realize that the two-person Pipistrel Velis Electro is far from what the airline needs. They explain: “This small-scale experiment within current technical limits could represent an important boost to the future scalability of these applications and thus to the potential future of aviation.”
Not less than 100 seats yet
But how many seats does an electric plane need at least to be interesting for KLM to operate? “Our smallest planes have 100 seats. “This is the business we know today,” said COO Martin Steinen in an interview with aeroTELEGRAPH. “But new technologies may also help create new markets – where trains or cars may not be able to transport people, but small planes can.”
Embraer E-Jets are currently KLM’s smallest aircraft. Photo: Aero Telegraph
KLM is working on a feasibility study under the leadership of Jolanda Stephens, who is in charge of the future zero-emissions aviation project. It deals with minimum electric aircraft size, potential business models, and potential markets. “In about a year,” says Stevens, “we want to get the first results, at least some direction.”
E-planes are an opportunity for regional airports
“There are many regional airports in Europe that are underutilised,” said UEFA President Jurgen de Jong. Therefore, among other things, we are working on a concept of using such airports for electric aircraft movement – as feeders for larger airports, but also as point-to-point connections with electric vehicles.
KLM Chief Operating Officer Stienen does not want to rule out flights powered by electric engines. “We’ll look at everything,” he says. It is also possible to envision new, smaller goals. “In Scandinavia, for example, there are many places that need better connections but don’t have airports that we can currently serve. Perhaps this is the first step in connecting such areas.
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