Boeing announced Thursday that it wants to buy a company specializing in making electric and autonomous planes, thereby breaking into an emerging market of modern planes, Reuters reports.
Boeing is already a major investor in a Seattle-based startup company, Zunum Aero, that plans to bring a small hybrid plane to market by 2022. The plane will seat 12 people and cut the price of trips less than 1,000 miles through use of two electric engines.
“Airlines are very keen to know how to fly a shorter distance and make money on it,” Kirkland co-founder and chief aeronautic engineer Matt Knapp said, according to The Guardian.
Planes the size of Zunum’s would be able to use thousands of smaller airports across the U.S. for passenger travel, cutting down on time lost in security and crowds at major hubs. About 96 percent of U.S. air traffic flows through 1 percent of the nation’s airports, Knapp said.
“We’re getting airline pricing down on a small plane and doing it for short distances,” Knapp said. “That kind of aircraft doesn’t currently exist.”
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