Elon Musk Has A Radically Different Idea Of How Commercial Planes Should Takeoff And Land

We’ve all seen Space-X’s incredible footage of a rocket taking off and landing. (In case you haven’t, check out the above.)

CEO Elon Musk believes we should really be thinking about having all aeroplanes move like this — and have them be electric powered. This would make them more efficient in terms of fuel use.

In an appearance on The Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert, Musk explained his vision (we’ve edited out Colbert’s interjections):

Aircraft should be vertical takeoff and landing. Kind of like a Harrier, except that it’s better to move the fan than it is to duct the air. I think the Harrier’s a great plane, but I think there’s a real opportunity to have a vertical take-off and landing supersonic jet. You’d use an electric motor to drive a fan. Traditional jet aircraft are mostly fan driven — like when you see a high-bypass jet engine on a triple-7, it looks huge. That’s because most of the propulsion is really coming from the fan. So there’s some value to having ducts, but it’s actually more efficient to have an open fan if you just care about efficiency per mile. But you can go faster if you have a ducted situation.

The segment ended a bit cryptically, with Colbert asking, What’s next? Musk replied, Well, what do you wish there was? Colbert then responded with this:

I wish there weren’t any cables. I wish that computers didn’t have to be typed into, that the mouse and the keyboard are terrible, it’s a terrible interface, that I could just have a relationship with the machine, that I could have a discussion of my needs and it would do it. I think cables on anything are terrible, not just communication, but charging cables, that I could walk into my house and things would charge, or I would have a subscription service to a charging system and anywhere I went in the United States there’d be a charge that would follow me around.

Musk responded: “OK, ok…Yeah no, we’ll do it.”

And Colbert ended with, “Elon Musk everybody, SpaceX, Tesla, and wireless charging.”

Musk himself interjected with some laughs throughout Colbert’s part, so in no way can we say that this was an extremely oblique production introduction through Stephen Colbert.

But we also can’t rule out that it’s not happening.

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