For victims of green guilt, air travel is agony at 9,000m. As you relax with a drink and the latest must-read report from the intergovernmental panel on climate change, you are riding on a jet trail of carbon dioxide. Imagine how much better electric airliners would be: quiet, clean, sustainable. 

Perhaps that is why the advent of electric airliners is forecast so confidently. It makes us feel better about our planet-trashing holidays and business trips. Warren East, the normally sober boss of jet engine-maker Rolls-Royce, hailed “significant strides in accelerating electrification ambitions” last week.

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