An electric airplane prototype gets ready for take off.

Nova: Great Electric Airplane Race

Airing Wednesday, June 29 at 8 p.m.

Can new emission-free electric planes replace our polluting airliners and revolutionize personal transportation in our cities? NOVA takes you for a ride in some impressive prototypes that are already in the air, from speedy single-seat planes that can take off like a helicopter but are half as noisy to “self-flying” air taxis that are already taking passengers on test flights in Chinese cities. 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?

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