Boeings and batteries?

We have applied the equations of flight to a Boeing 747. Fuel economy of 5-6 gallons per mile is calculated as a function of the plane’s mass, velocity, distance travelled and aerodynamics. Hence for a 10,000km journey, jet fuel makes up c30% of the take-off weight (which is more than all the passengers).

To fuel the same journey with battery-power would require the batteries to weigh 12x more than the entire plane, at batteries’ current energy density. The maximum range of a battery-powered 747 is currently around 90km.

With some heroic assumptions over the next 10-20 years, a battery-powered 747 could be extended to cover c1,000km. But overall, because of the long range, Trans-Atlantic air travel looks immune to electrification.

Download the model and you can see our calculation methodology, as well as testing your own inputs.