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A greener, quieter age of air travel

Through drones, electric airplanes and better jet engines, UK budget airline EasyJet demonstrated how it plans to change air travel.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

EasyJet, an airline best known for flying Brits across Europe to sunny locales, wants you to know it cares about the planet. Two weeks ago, it held an Innovation Day at London's Gatwick Airport to show it's using technology to take better care of its aircraft and lessen their impact on the environment.

The star of the show was one of EasyJet's new A320neo airliners. Outfitted with new engines (neo is an acronym for New Engine Option), these newest A320s cut emissions by 15 percent and reduce noise by 50 percent. EasyJet didn't take us for a flight, but we boarded the aircraft for a taxi across Gatwick from the North Terminal to the airline's maintenance hangar. 

Inside the hangar the airline showed a number of demonstrations, from how it's using drones to inspect its aircraft from damage after lightning strikes to how it's slowly adopting electric tugs to push aircraft back from the gate. But the most astounding announcement is EasyJet's plan to introduce an electric aircraft to fly passengers by 2027. 

Click through the above gallery for the full 35,000-foot view.

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