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NOVA: Great Electric Airplane Race
(DVD / G / 2021 / PBS)

Overview: Electric cars seem increasingly likely to replace our gas-guzzling vehicles.

Could a new generation of emission-free electric planes do the same to the polluting airliners in our skies - a major step in the fight against climate change?

DVD Verdict: In NOVA: Great Electric Airplane Race, PBS looks at an array of promising new electric planes on the horizon and takes you for a ride in some impressive prototypes that are already in the air.

We take a hop in the Kittyhawk Heaviside, a single-seat plane that can take off like a helicopter but is half as noisy and can fly for 100 miles at 150 mph.

Or there’s the E-Hang, an autonomous drone said to have already taken thousands of passengers on test flights in Shanghai; could self-flying air taxis revolutionize city transportation?

But if electric airplanes are ever to advance beyond small, short-haul craft, significant hurdles of battery weight, energy storage and cooling remain to be overcome.

How long will it be before the dream of super-quiet, super-efficient airliners becomes a reality?

All these questions and oh-so many more are all answered here in this 60 minute documentary from PBS, along with openly discussing the fact that whereas electric planes have been on people’s mind for a while, there are still two big problems that are keeping electric grounded.

First, the technology’s not quite ready given that when you’re trying to get an electric plane off the ground, you want a battery that packs a lot of punch in a little package, and that batteries are not as efficient as gas, and they’re probably not gonna be for a while!

And, of course, if something goes wrong, you can’t stop. You can’t pull to the side of the road. There’s only one place for that airplane to go. And so the regulatory stringency is much higher, the requirements for reliability, redundancy, and safety are much higher for a good reason. You have no alternate.

All this and more is discussed freely on this highly informative new PBS documentary. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

Official PBS Purchase Link