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Is Elon Musk Working On An Electric Plane | Tesla and Electric Space Travel

He single-handedly galvanized the electric car market, promised to make Californians fall in love with public transport and made reusable space rockets seem really quite ordinary but there's still one mode of transport which somehow eludes Tesla CEO

elon musk tesla electric plane

Elon Musk. Yet despite more than a decade of teasing, he's still yet to deliver on perhaps his most audacious game-changing invention yet. So today we're asking,

Is Elon Musk working on an electric Airplane?

During an early scene in marvel's 2010 Blockbuster Ironman 2, real-life billionaire inventor Elon Musk pops up in a very short cameo to shake hands with fictional billionaire inventor Tony Stark and Musk deliver this immortal line “I've got a good idea for an electric jet”. Was this a rye joke at his own expense or a vivid example of art imitating life because Elon Musk has expressed interest in the project of electric aviation several times.

Two years before his Ironman cameo, in fact he cryptically observed an electric plane gets more feasible as battery energy improves which seems pretty obvious when you think about it still there's no shortage of indications that Musk has since been taking the project very seriously indeed only last month on the 17th anniversary of the decommissioning of Concord he wistfully tweeted “psy! there should be a new supersonic jet this time electric” He doesn't seem to think it's technically out of the question during another interview in early 2020 he restated his belief that all transport will go electric except for rockets and if anybody can say that with authority it's Elon Musk back in 2012 he outright teased that he'd had a design for an electric plane in his head for at least four years that vision although never expressed in any meaningful detail, is believed to resemble what aviation designers refer to as a VTOL or vertical takeoff and landing design broadly similar to a Harrier jump jet.

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During that infamous 2018 dope smoking interview with podcast host Joe Rogan, Musk outlined some of the challenges such a design would need to overcome I've thought about this quite a lot he told Rogan the exciting thing to do would be a vertical takeoff and landing supersonic jet of some kind the trick is that you have to transition to level flight the thing you'd use for vertical takeoff and landing is not suitable for high speed flight still even if it won't go faster than sound some of the engineering solutions may be at hand to make Musk's VTOL viable as he hinted when speaking at a Massachusetts Institute of Technology Symposium in 2014. “i've been toying with it a while” he told the hushed MIT crowd.


Aircraft have all these unnecessary things like tails and rudders they are not needed so gimble the electric fan. Gimbaling is normal in rockets but not in aircraft.

Six years later this idea doesn't seem to have got much further than Musk's mental drawing board but that doesn't mean he's any less enthused by the project. In June of 2021 Musk responded on twitter to a concept design posted by young British designer Tom Abbott Davis “looks pretty cool” Musk observed in response to the slick Manta Ray-esque vertical takeoff and landing plane although clearly chafted impressed the real-life Tony Stark, Abbott Davis noted he was recently turned down for a plum Tesla internship submitting the exact same design in any case.

Elon Musk is unlikely to be interested in pursuing the single-seater aircraft market. Small fry is not his style, the most significant stumbling block on the road to electrified aviation is batteries. Musk is keenly aware that for now conventional jet fuel has far greater energy density which is to say it's light enough to fly. Any current battery strong enough to take flight would be far too heavy to do so for any useful length of time. Tesla's market standard batteries have an energy density of around 260 watt hours per kilogram. Musk's battery research team led by Jeff Dan has reliably achieved 360 watt hours per kilogram and the magic number for flight is believed to be just a little more at around 400.

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Musk hopefully tweeted in August of 2020 that such a battery could arrive soon probably three to four years. Jeff Dan threw even more petrol on the fire of speculation when he published a paper in the science journal “Nature” suggesting his new generation of battery could increase the range of electric vehicles or even enable electrified urban aviation but even assuming Elon Musk can overcome the daunting technical challenges he'd then have to negotiate the byzantine thickets of international law that govern the aviation industry as he told an interviewer in February 2020 “I think it's incredibly difficult to bring an aircraft to production and meet all the regulatory requirements worldwide, it's a very difficult thing”.

So let's assume the most significant drag factor on Musk developing his electric airplane is the hefty demands of his day job. Remember this is a man simultaneously trying to wean our civilization off the petrol motor car and go to Mars at the same time. To divert Musk's resources and attention to electric planes would mean as he puts it we'd have to not do a bunch of other things. So there you have it Elon Musk certainly isn't opposed to working on an electric airplane he's just a little busy right now. Do share this post with your friends aswell.

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