PBS Nova: The Great Electric Airplane Race


Despite the title of this PBS Nova program, I hope you'll watch from 5:10 to about 10:00. It is, hands down, the simplest, clearest explainer we have ever seen about the health and climate impacts of commercial aviation.

Frankly, almost none of us, airport communities, scientists, politicians, have done a particularly good job of marketing the importance of these issues to the general public. Terms like UFPs, cardiovascular spikes and so on are not exactly user-friendly concepts.

You're probably already on board, but if you have friends and policy makers that you can't seem to get to take this seriously, I urge you to have them look at just this 5 minutes. We need more explainers as well done as this in order to get traction with the public and decision makers.

Article Summary:

Can new emission-free electric planes replace our polluting airliners and revolutionize personal transportation in our cities? NOVA takes you for a ride in some impressive prototypes that are already in the air, from speedy single-seat planes that can take off like a helicopter but are half as noisy to “self-flying” air taxis that are already taking passengers on test flights in Chinese cities. But if electric airplanes are ever to advance beyond small, short-haul craft, significant hurdles of battery weight, energy storage, and cooling remain to be overcome. How long will it be before the dream of super-quiet, super-efficient airliners becomes a reality? (Premiered May 26, 2021)