The future of electrification in the airline industry is a compelling topic, especially for Boeing (BA 1.17%) and Airbus (EADSY 0.57%). In this clip from "The High Energy Show" on Motley Fool Live, recorded on April 5, Fool.com contributors Jason Hall and Lou Whiteman discuss what fuel sources the aviation giants are planning to use over the next few decades.
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Jason Hall: When you get to the airline industry I mean is electrification, anything more than a pipe dream for the next five decades, Lou?
Lou Whiteman: I don't think so, I'm glad you said it. I think it's a good transition. You mentioned hydrogen. To Travis's point that if there is enough economic motivation, the engineers are amazing people and can do amazing things. I think that that is true, but this is where things like hydrogen fuel cells come in for me. I think it's just an easier path for now unless we get to that one-day next-gen battery, which obviously changes everything.
But yeah, so aviation and this is everything I just said about thrust times order of magnitudes. Especially since there are really, grave consequences if you run out of battery mid-flight. It's much different than a train just stopping. Boeing and Airbus spent a lot of years working on electric planes. They've both given up. We'll talk about Airbus. I think it's really interesting what they're doing. In fact, I'll show you real quick. This is what Airbus hopes were flying within, realistically...
Hall: Is this the flying donut, are you about to show us the flying donut?
Whiteman: Let's say 2035. But those are three prototypes that they're building right now. You'll see it's a tiny plane, a full-size that's about an A-200, so that's a small commercial plane and then a propeller. Those are all fuel-cell powered. That's where they think it's going. Boeing. I don't know if you guys know this, Boeing's had a rough few years...
Hall: I've heard.
Whiteman: And they don't have the engineering budgets that they've had. Maybe for those reasons, maybe it's because of the scientists. Boeing has said, we're not going to invest in any of this. We're just going to keep making our planes lighter with carbon fibers. The plastic plane is working so well and we're going to count on our Jet-A engines to get more and more efficient. Plus we're going to hopefully be sourcing that Jet A from plankton or whatever in the years to come.
Boeing has given up on all of this basically saying that right now foreseeable future next 20,10,15 years, which is what the development cycle is on these planes. All they are working on is current generation improvements, just making the current planes more efficient.