Magpie Aviation has presented its aeroplane towing concept, ‘AeroTow’ to enable electric aircraft to travel greater distances.

The development of electric flight is currently hindered by the heavy weight of batteries and their inability to carry as much energy as jet fuel.

This generally suggests that electric planes will only be useful for short flights with a limited number of passengers.

However, Magpie aims to help planes travel further using its ‘AeroTow’ concept.

AeroTowing Aircraft
Magpie has already completed successful test flights of this concept

This ‘AeroTow’ concept allows an aircraft carrying passengers or cargo to depart from a regular airport using its onboard batteries. These have enough power to cover take-off and landing, while also keeping plenty in reserve.

A tow aircraft then departs from a charging base at a smaller airport, with only batteries onboard. This design provides it with enough power to fly about twice the distance of current electric aircraft.

To allow the passenger plane to benefit from this energy, the two aircraft will meet in the sky and autonomously connect. The towing aircraft will then provide the main propulsion, while passengers benefit from a smooth and quiet flight.

For longer journeys, the tow aircraft can also be swapped out along the route.

The company has already completed test flights of this concept, which has resulted in safe and automated towing connections.

Oliver Haas, Head of Partnerships and Strategy at Magpie Aviation said:

This is a world first and a key milestone toward our ultimate goal to enable a broad network of zero-emission electric flights that can stretch a thousand miles and beyond.

In addition to enabling electric aircraft to cover greater distances, Magpie also believes this concept is financially beneficial, despite requiring more than one aircraft.

The company’s rationale is as follows: flying electric planes saves on fuel and maintenance, and these savings could balance out the cost of towing.

Notably, towing aircraft also have simpler designs and fly from low-cost airports.

A video detailing Magpie’s ‘AeroTow’ concept can be viewed here.


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