Alaska Air looking at Electric and Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Alaska Airlines is seeking to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. With this in mind, it is looking at the utilization of electric aircraft. Nonetheless, the Seattle-based carrier needs to take crucial steps to work towards its targets. Simple Flying spoke with the airline’s director of sustainability, Kirk Myers, about his company’s measures.

Alaska Airlines 737-9 MAX
Alaska Airlines recently affirmed its commitment to operating more efficiently following the announcement of it exercising its operations for more Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. Photo: Alaska Airlines

Electric avenue

The airline prides itself on having a strong culture when it comes to values that tie into its goals. Therefore, the firm has been proactive when it comes to analyzing the future of the aviation industry.

Notably, there are already certain segments where electric aircraft are expected to operate in fantastically. With Alaska Airlines connecting several communities, including remote ones, these planes may have a critical role in the future.

We are doing a lot of work investigating the whole space of hydrogen fuel cells as well as electric hybrids to understand how that might play a role. We believe it can play a strong role for the regional fleet moving forward. Obviously, a long timeline of that, but we think there are some great opportunities in that space,” Myers told Simple Flying.

“Now it is about replicating that culture efficiency towards carbon, as part of our initial focus for the next couple of years. We can make a lot of progress with incredible carbon offsets if they’re needed, which they likely will be to some degree. We’re doing work to really pioneer and innovate in terms of what that can look like.

Alaska Airlines Horizon Air passenger jet at Medford International Airport, Oregon
Could some of the aircraft of Alaska Airlines’ subsidiary, Horizon Air, be replaced with electric aircraft this decade? Photo: Getty Images

Soon to be a reality

Altogether there are great prospects in the electric aircraft scene. We recently reported about how magniX has made great progress with the testing of its electric propulsion systems. Now, the likes of Eviation are making significant strides with the completion of their programs.

It may be many years for the technology involved in these vehicles to mature to be effective for larger aircraft on longer-distance operations. Nevertheless, there are high hopes for when it comes to smaller aircraft to be deployed on shorter distances in the short and medium-term.

It may only be a few years away for when planes such as Eviation’s Alice enter service. However, many of these planes have a capacity as low as around nine passengers, which may not be sufficient enough for Alaska’s current model. Regardless, magniX is working on units that can fit on aircraft for up to 40 passengers. So, these planes could be perfect for certain regional operations across the conterminous United States’ northwest area and Alaska.

Source: Simple Flying – Sumit Singh.

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