>> The race for the future is moving the earth to the skies. Zunum Aero a startup funded by the aerospace giant Boeing along with airliner jetBlue announcing Thursday that it will bring a hybrid electric plane to market within five years. Reuters aerospace correspondent Al Scott says the technology is ready.
>> Companies like Tesla are making great advances in the battery technology. So you can put batteries into the wings of these planes and have them drive an electric engine and essentially eliminate the fuel costs. So this is sort of the beginning of a major transformation in air travel.
>> And there's another business rationale besides getting rid of fuel costs thanks to the hybrid plane's 700-mile range.>> So Zunum's idea is, look, there are tons of little regional airports around, there are like 10,000 of them that get very little use. Their plane could fly out of on of those and into one of those where really you basically rock off the plane, go through the building and you're at the parking lot.
>> The 12 seaters will fly on two electric motors along with the reserve gas engine but will travel at slower speeds than traditional planes. Electric vehicle batteries made by Panasonic and Tesla will provide the battery power. But that brings up a dilemma, with Tesla struggling to produce enough batteries to meet demand for its popular electric cars, will there be enough battery power for the planned planes?
And Zunim is not alone, Uber's working on a battery powered flying car, and Boeing's arch rival Airbus is working on an electric plane as well. And what about safety?>> There's obviously the fire risk cuz these batteries have caught fire in the past, that's something that obviously the battery companies are addressing.
The plan for flight is you have a certain amount of reserve on the battery, 45 minutes or so In which you would have to land before the battery ran out of juice. A larger, 50-passenger plane that can go 1,000 miles is already on the drawing board. But don't expect that one to fly until the end of the next decade.