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Plug in and fly: An electric passenger plane could fly by 2027

UK airline EasyJet says it will operate an electric-powered passenger airplane within the next decade.

Kent German/CNET

In the not-so-distant future, your zero-emissions travel may not have to end once you park your Nissan Leaf at the airport.

EasyJet today announced a partnership with a US company to develop an all-electric passenger airplane over the next decade. The UK low-cost airline says it will be able to fly the still-unnamed aircraft on 20 percent of its routes across Europe, both reducing carbon emissions and lowering noise levels for communities near airports.

California-based Wright Electric says it will design and build an airliner with electric motors in the wings that will draw power from batteries. The company, which already demonstrated a two-seater electric airplane, plans to complete the first prototype of a commercial-scale aircraft by 2021.

In a statement, EasyJet CEO Carolyn McCall, said the ultimate goal is to reduce the aviation industry's impact on the environment. "For the first time we can envisage a future without jet is now more a matter of when, not if, a short haul electric plane will fly."

Wright says the aircraft will seat between 120 to 220 passengers, but for now at least, CEO Jeffrey Engler would not elaborate on the engine technology or on how much electricity it would take to power them. The maximum range of the airliner would be 335 miles (540km) making it capable of flying such routes as Amsterdam to London, Berlin to Vienna and Milan to Rome.