Spanish low-cost carrier Volotea is to assist in the development of a new hybrid-electric aircraft for regional airlines.

It’s part of a long-term agreement with Madrid-based electric engineering start-up DANTE Aeronautical, it will collaborate in the design of the prototype and explore its viability on commercial routes linking small and medium-sized airports.

The small aircraft would be “suitable for operating on very short, non-existent routes in the next decade”, a statement said. The “eco-friendly” project is looking at routes that are typically unprofitable for traditional aircraft, offering alternatives where other means of transport are not an option.

The new prototype will be powered by electricity stored in batteries or generated on board with high-efficiency internal combustion engines. Assisting in the programme are the institutes such as the IE Business School in Madrid and the universities of Sydney and Adelaide along with the innovation consultancy firm Altran.

The LCC has agreed to provide DANTE with market analysis and technical data, while its “engineers and business specialists have been tasked with evaluating market opportunities and, at the same time, provide technical support,” said Carlos Munoz, the airline’s president and owner.

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