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Posted on May 04, 2016

Rapid progress in electric aircraft

Aurora Flight Sciences will be presenting alongside NASA and many other advanced aerospace developers at the Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency CAFE event. Called "2016 Electric Aircraft Symposium Emerging Technologies - The Path to Early Market Opportunities" it is in San Francisco May 19-20. Other presentations will include Bye Aerospace on "Solar-Electric 'Sun Flyer' Program Update" and Silent Falcon UAS Technologies on "Electric Flight and Unmanned Aviation".
 
Dr Peter Harrop of IDTechEx will present on, "Energy Storage for Electric Aircraft 2016-2031". IDTechEx has techno-market research reports, Manned Electric Aircraft 2016-2031 External Link, Electric Drones: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) 2015-2025 External Link and Advanced and Post Lithium-ion Batteries 2016-2026: Technologies, Markets, Forecasts External Link. He says...
 
"The evolving storage developments are quite complex with supercapacitors having a development to higher energy density through pseudocapacitance and partially-faradaic supercabattery options all with superb cycle life and other superlatives. On the other hand, the quest for greater energy density with batteries takes us to a host of options beyond lithium-ion. That means to 400Wh/kg and beyond where Elon Musk correctly talks of long haul pure electric flight becoming interesting. In all these cases, solid state devices would be particularly suitable as load-bearing structures and smart skin and many will provide precious non-flammability. I shall scope what may be available and adopted over the coming decade and beyond."
 
Various programs converge on the electric aircraft, such as More Electric Aircraft MEA which has already led to the successful Boeing 787 and the many small fully electric aircraft from Airbus down to start ups. Last month, Aurora Flight Sciences was awarded the $89m DARPA contract for the VTOL X-Plane slated to be the first aircraft designed to demonstrate:
 
  • Distributed hybrid-electric propulsion ducted fans
 
  • An innovative synchronous electric-drive system
 
  • Both tilt-wing- and tilt-canard-based propulsion for vertical takeoff and landing
 
  • High efficiency in both hover and high-speed forward flight
 
The work is expected to be completed by September 2018.
Learn more at the next leading event on the topic: Energy Independent Electric Vehicles 2017 External Link on 27 - 28 Sep 2017 in TU Delft, Delft, Netherlands hosted by IDTechEx.