Commuter air service to small communities has almost disappeared, sustained only by unique operators or government subsidies. The problem is the high operating cost of aircraft available to fly these sparsely traveled “thin-haul” routes. Regional jets are too expensive, as are most small turboprops, which leaves older piston types with escalating maintenance costs. Could electric propulsion, with its higher efficiency and lower energy cost, bring back the commuter airliner? Or ...

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