The president of Virgin Atlantic, British innovator Sir Richard Branson, has made a career, and a fortune, out of innovation. Now the space-age–minded Branson is advocating for commercial airplanes made with graphene within the next 10 years.
The Telegraph reports that Branson is touting the lightweight material as a “breakthrough technology” that could “revolutionize” the airline industry. By making airliners many times lighter, airlines like Virgin Atlantic could save on fuel, which is the biggest factor in profit margins.
“The Telegraph adds Branson was speaking in Seattle, where the British airline has just begun flying on a daily basis for the first time: ‘Graphene is even lighter [than carbon fibre], many times lighter and many times stronger,’ he said. ‘Hopefully graphene can be the planes of the future, if you go 10 years down the line. They would be massively lighter than the current planes, which again would make a difference on fuel burn.’”
The international tycoon has battled the industry in the past to construct airplanes from carbon fibers, which has decreased fuel costs by 30%.