Buckle up, because Zunum Aero is getting closer to launching its hybrid electric airplane. Today, the Seattle-based startup announced that it has its very first customer—the private-jet-charter company JetSuite. The stork will deliver “up to 100” of its 12-seater hybrid-electric planes in 2022, according to the Seattle Times.
Zunum, which is backed by Boeing’s HorizonX innovation venture fund and got funding from JetBlue Technology Ventures and the State of Washington, hopes to begin testing its aircraft technology by 2019 to make its delivery date. As Blue Sky News points out, though, Zunum is purposely relying on already proven technology for its planes and Tesla-style battery packs to make delivery as seamless as possible.
JetSuite, which partners with JetBlue on semi-private flights and has some cash on hand after an investment from Qatar Airways, is a natural first customer for Zunum. Zunum’s planes were designed with short-haul regional routes in mind (its gas-electric hybrid planes will be able to fly up to 700 miles, a number that will bump up to 1,000 miles by 2030), which are similar to the short-haul routes that JetSuite currently uses to tote high-end customers from Las Vegas to Los Angeles and the like. Plus, the two companies have been in a mutual admiration society for a while now.
In a statement, JetSuite founder and CEO Alex Wilcox said the agreement with Zunum will bring “more efficient and environmentally friendly aviation solutions to our private- and semi-private-jet customers.”