News Brief: Kirkland, Wash.-based Zunum Aero has reportedly started building its first prototype electric airplane motor, and plans to put an upgraded version on a test aircraft in 2019. Word of Zunum’s progress came from CEO Ashish Kumar in a Reuters interview. With backing from Boeing, JetBlue and other investors, Zunum is working on a new class of regional airplanes with hybrid electric propulsion systems, currently scheduled to enter service in 2022. Reuters quoted Kumar as saying that Zunum is talking with Washington state lawmakers and officials about a measure to encourage the use of hybrid aircraft at regional airports. Many other companies, ranging from Airbus Group’s Vahana venture to Wright Electric, are also developing hybrid electric and all-electric aircraft.
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