The Forgotten Era of Flight
A recent report by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) suggests we may be on the verge of a disruption in commercial air travel.
According to Reuters, “The U.S. securities regulator on Monday proposed requiring U.S.-listed companies to disclose a range of climate-related risks and greenhouse gas emissions, part of President Joe Biden’s push to join global efforts to avert climate-related catastrophes.”
Traditional planes burn a tremendous amount of fuel just to stay in the air, roughly 750 gallons an hour. So if there’s any industry that’s rife for environmental reform, it’s aviation.
This comes as tragic news broke Monday that a Boeing 737 crashed into a remote mountainous region in China. Aviation experts are skeptical the crash was a manufacturer issue and instead believe something abnormal happened midflight. If it turns out to be a manufacturer issue, Boeing will be in serious trouble. And just last Friday, four U.S. Marines were killed in Norway during a NATO exercise when their MV-22B Osprey, a hybrid plane-helicopter built by Boeing, crashed.
The company already faced backlash after Netflix aired a damning special on the blue chip aviation company called Downfall: The Case Against Boeing. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a must-watch.
The documentary details Boeing’s greedy corporate culture and disregard for safety protocols while building the 737 Max airplanes, which ultimately led to two fatal plane crashes just five months apart. Investigators found the leadership at Boeing knew about the plane’s issues and attempted to cover them up and even refused to train pilots on the new system because it would take time and money, something they didn’t want reflected in the stock price.
The saying used to be, “If it ain’t Boeing, I ain’t going,” but now I’m not so sure. The last time I was on a Boeing, we got stalled on the tarmac for an hour. The pilot came over the intercom and said maintenance inspectors found a dent in the engine. When I flew Airbus (OTC: EADSY), on the other hand, it was a very enjoyable ride.
Whenever aviation tragedies occur, consumers start to wonder about the alternatives and whether other companies are out there working to improve comfort and safety standards.
And now that traditional aviation companies are coming under scrutiny for their fuel consumption, we could see major disruptions in the near future.
And if we know anything, it’s that Wall Street loves disruption.
Here are two trends set to disrupt the aviation sector...
The Forgotten Era
Airships, or dirigibles, evoke an emotional response because they’re really good at capturing people’s attention. When you see a blimp or even a hot-air balloon, the sheer size makes you feel like you’re living in the future. In fact, many sci-fi movies use airships as a symbol of future progress.
In the early 1900s, airships could be seen flying over major cities, like this zeppelin floating over Manhattan in 1936...
Who can forget the iconic Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade scene where Indy and Jones Sr. try to escape on a D-138 German zeppelin? If you remember, the interior looked spacious, luxurious, and relaxing.
Now, all commercial zeppelin travel stopped after the Hindenburg disaster of 1937. The Van Wagner Airship Group estimates there are only 25 blimps in use around the world today, used mainly as billboards.
But technology has come a long way, and experts think the airship industry is being reborn as we speak.
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Two companies in particular are working to disrupt the luxury air travel and heavy shipping industries using airships.
First, Hybrid Air Vehicles built the Airlander 10, the longest aircraft in the world, designed for slow, luxurious, and green commercial travel. It can also be used for surveillance and other military operations.
Using helium to float (instead of the flammable hydrogen used in the Hindenburg), it can take off and land vertically, allowing it to reach remote corners of the planet.
While it does use combustion engines for thrust and trim, the ship emits 75% less carbon than other aircraft. The company plans for it to use a hybrid electric motor, which will reduce emissions by 90%, with the goal of using all-electric engines in the future.
For now, the Airlander fits a niche luxury travel market, but airships have commercial uses as well.
Paris-based company Flying Whales created its airship out of necessity to bolster the French lumber industry.
With a cargo capacity of 60 tons, the LCA60T can enter remote regions of the country to retrieve logs and carry them to the sawmills.
The company hopes to carry other commercial equipment, like shipping containers and wind turbine blades.
For the naysayers of airship travel... Jeff Bezos literally shot himself into space on a rocket. It's not far-fetched to think we can gently float ourselves from point A to point B.
However, one major problem with massive airships is the weather. The side of an airship effectively acts like a large sail, so heavy winds will really push it around.
Smaller airplanes have an advantage by being able to cut through the wind — which is why the second piece of technology set to disrupt commercial air travel is so important.
Electric planes aren't just around the corner; they're already here.
Rolls-Royce's all-electric plane, called the “Spirit of Innovation,” completed its first flight late last year.
In 2019, Israeli company Eviation rolled out “Alice,” its first all-electric commuter plane, with its maiden voyage scheduled for this year.
President Biden announced last year that the “Department of Energy, working collaboratively with NASA, is investing $115 million to develop battery technologies that can achieve the energy density needed for both near-term electric vertical takeoff and landing and short-range consumer aircraft use cases, and may potentially achieve the energy density needed for long-term, longer-range electric aircraft as well.”
We already know the large airships mentioned above are using hybrid electric motors to cut down on emissions and aid in vertical takeoff and landing.
So it’s only a matter of time before electric planes fly alongside traditional aircraft and possibly even take over the entire aviation industry, especially now that the SEC may require companies to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions.
Fellow Wealth Daily editor Alex Koyfman has been following this trend and says there's one company investors need to keep on their radar.
He calls it the “Tesla of the skies,” and as it's only trading around $5 today, this company has serious 10-bagger potential.
It already inked a partnership with NASA for its electric engine tech...
Just as Tesla built its empire by carving out a niche sector of the car market, this company's primarily focused on private flights and business aviation.
But seeing as it just completed a crucial certification with the FAA, you may see this aircraft in the sky very soon.
Editor, Wealth Daily
After Alexander’s passion for economics and investing drew him to one of the largest financial publishers in the world, where he rubbed elbows with former Chicago Board Options Exchange floor traders, Wall Street hedge fund managers, and International Monetary Fund analysts, he decided to take up the pen and guide others through this new age of investing.
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