Episode 137
Oct 29, 2019

We have plug-in cars. Why not plug-in planes?

Can we make the friendly skies more environmentally friendly?

Kai Ryssdal likes planes, he used to fly them.

The planes he used to fly in the Navy always made a loud rumbly noise. They were powered by fossil fuels — specifically, kerosene. That fuel created a bunch of perfectly synchronized fiery explosions that together helped create the magic of flight.

But those fiery explosions emit pollution, that kerosene comes from a limited supply, and plane travel overall isn’t great for the environment. We’ve gotten closer to addressing this problem on the ground, as Tesla and other electric carmakers have staked out a bigger place in the market and more charging stations pop up in cities. So why not electric planes?

Well, they exist, and they’re coming faster than ever … but don’t expect to take a flight on one soon. Here to talk us through what’s out there and what obstacles remain is Graham Warwick, managing editor of Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine.

Plus, more of your feedback on our nuclear power episode. Molly’s back next week.

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The team

Molly Wood Host
Jody Becker Interim Senior Producer
Tony Wagner Digital Producer
Sam Anderson Associate Producer