A challenge facing Science in the 21st century: to make airplanes more environmentally friendly. Some promising technologies already exist.

More than 80,000 air transport movements take place around the globe every day. Since the start of the Jet Age 50 years ago, air travel has recorded mammoth growth rates, placing a very real burden on the earth’s climate and on people living near airports. For this reason, engineers are working hard on ‘eco’ or ‘green’ jet engines. Optimising the turbines can lower fuel consumption, a concept that impresses many aircraft manufacturers such as Airbus and Mitsubishi Aircraft. In terms of small planes too, air travel is at the dawn of a revolution: electromobility. Cars and bicycles with electric drives have become an everyday sight on our streets, but air travel too can benefit from the advantages of a quiet electric engine. The “Elektra One” is an airplane driven by the electrical energy of a battery. It is significantly quieter and produces no exhaust gases as it glides through the skies. Could this be a viable alternative to the Cessna? This scientific documentary presents the work being done – under significant time pressure – on new pioneering solutions for air travel. But will the efforts of the engineers be enough? Can their new technologies compensate for a tripling of global air traffic?