Zunum is a startup that’s working to create a hybrid-electric commuter plane.  It will be built out of composites, carry batteries in the wings and a small amount of fuel.  The company is ambitious, but does not yet have anything to show consumers.

The company as yet has no hardware to show the world, only ambitious plans and alluring illustrations. It also has a Silicon Valley-style pitch.

What are they really trying to do?

Existing planes of this size, such as the Wichita-built Beechcraft King Air or the Swiss-made Pilatus PC-12, today are flown by city-to-city commuter airlines that typically serve lucrative short-hop routes — say San Francisco to Los Angeles — and by operators offering on-demand air-taxi service.

Kumar says Zunum’s battery-powered plane will open up this aviation sector by dramatically lowering the cost of operating such planes. He cites $250 per flight hour, compared to $600 to $1,000 and up per flight hour on similarly sized nonelectric planes.

According to the founder, this will lead to the creation of a distributed network of airline routes that will connect small cities.

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