It’s been a long and arduous journey, but, after many decades in the game for some, and just a few years for others, aircraft manufacturing companies are closer than ever to their goals of finding the perfect balance of size, speed, and design, that will take humanity into its next phase of air travel.

Whether a futuristic suborbital aircraft that can travel at more than 15,000 mph, or a completely electric-powered flying hotel, these are a few of the aircrafts that might be hitting the skies in the, somewhat, near future.

1. Zunum’s hybrid-electric aircraft

Production Company: Zunum Aero
Feature: Hybrid
EST. Cost of Production: >$4 Million*

In the United States, the ability to fly between small towns with ease is something that has, thus far, eluded commuters. Founded in 2013, and backed by Boeing as well as JetBlue Technology, Zunum Aero developed an aircraft that was designed to help combat the longer than necessary commutes that travelers have been forced to embark on.

Zunum aimed to have its hybrid aircraft carry passengers, up to 700 miles, to any one of the 15,000+ airports in America, and was designed to leave a small ecological footprint by transitioning completely into an electric vehicle once the appropriate battery technology has been developed. Unfortunately, Zunum Aero was not able to see its vision come to fruition, as the aircraft manufacturer went defunct in 2019.

2. The AW609

Production Company: Leonardo S.p.A (Formerly AgustaWestland)
Feature: Tiltrotor Technology
EST. Cost of Production: Unknown

Leonardo S.p.A’s AW609 was designed to bring the speed of a turboprop airplane and the take-off/landing capabilities of a helicopter together to create a tiltrotor aircraft suitable for the civil sector. It was way back in 2002, that tests of the first prototype began, but it would be a long time yet before this aircraft would attain its certification.

12 years later, in 2014, certification flights began, when the AW609 took its first customer on a demonstration flight. Fuelled by gasoline, not electricity, Leonardo’s tiltrotor aircraft can reach speeds of 337 mph and altitudes of 30,000 ft. After 2 decades of waiting for the AW609 to be completed, it’s expected to, finally, be introduced sometime in the next few years.

3. Boeing’s Blended Wing Body Airlifter

Production Company: Boeing
Feature: Blended Wing
EST. Cost of Production: Unknown

When designing a vehicle for the land, sea, or air, manufacturers have, for quite some time, turned to nature for inspiration. For years, planes have been designed to mimic the birds of the sky, perhaps, however, designers were looking at the wrong terrain. Perhaps, they should have been looking to the bird of the sea, the stingray.

Still, in its concept phase, Boeing’s blended wing body (BWB) aircraft looks like something out of a science fiction film. The obvious benefit of the aircraft’s design is the increased aerodynamics, however, its unique shape also provides the aircraft with an added lift that other designs miss out on – thus the name “Airlifter”.

Categorized in: