IIT Delhi’s mechanical engineer making hybrid plane in US, hopes to sell it to India by 2020

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Published: April 6, 2017 2:32:27 PM

According to a report, his startup has also received investments from aerospace giants -- Boeing and JetBlue owing to its goal to develop alternative propulsion aircraft.

Ashish Kumar is CEO and founder of Kirkland (Washington)-based Zunum Aero. (Pic: Zunum Aero website)

Ashish Kumar, a mechanical engineer from IIT Delhi, is making a hybrid-electric aircraft for regional flights in the US and is planning to sell the same in India by 2020, according to media reports. Ashish Kumar is CEO and founder of Kirkland (Washington)-based Zunum Aero. According to a PTI report, his startup has also received investments from aerospace giants — Boeing and JetBlue owing to its goal to develop alternative propulsion aircraft. “I consider us very fortunate to have backers like JetBlue and Boeing,” Kumar told the Business Insider. “We have been engaged with both companies for about a year, and both are as passionate as we are in this opportunity to reinvent regional air travel,” Kumar said.

The startup intends to use the financing to further develop its proposed regional aircrafts that hold 10 to 50 passengers for flights up to 1,000 miles. The jets primarily operate on battery power with an aviation diesel or turbine range-extending power generator available as a backup, a report in Fortune said.

Pic: Zunum Aero Website

Boeing said it made the investments in the startup through the ventures arm of a new group called ‘Boeing HorizonX’, an innovation cell focused on accelerating potentially transformative aerospace technologies, manufacturing innovations, and emerging business models. Boeing HorizonX is partnering with JetBlue Technology Ventures to invest in Zunum Aero.

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According to his profile on Zunum Aero website, Kumar has held leadership roles in Microsoft, Google, Dell, and McKinsey. His startup experience includes helping the launch Aeroxchange, now the largest electronic marketplace for the aviation industry. He has a Ph.D. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from the Cornell University. Kumar spent worked as a professor of engineering at Brown University in his early career, and as a research fellow at the Sandia National Laboratories.

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