Electric Aircraft: How and When will it happen?

How do we reduce the dependency on jet fuel in airplanes? Putting a battery on an aircraft is an idea, but it's an idea that is very difficult to engineer.

In this video post, I discuss the key challenges in going zero-emissions in the skies and some of the technologies that may help us get there.
The transportation industry generates the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions.

In the United States alone, the sector was responsible for 28% of the greenhouse gases emitted in 2018. And over 90% of the fuel used for transportation is petroleum based, which includes primarily gasoline and diesel. Within transportation, the aerospace sector is a key source of carbon emissions, producing about one fifth as much as what cars contribute in a year.

In recent years, the push to convert to renewable energy has been widespread in the automotive industry with more and more electric cars being sold every year. However, the aviation industry has been relatively quiet. Why so?

In this video, I explore the concept of energy density and main reasons why we haven't been flying in all-electric airplanes yet. I also discuss some of the enabling technologies, primarily:

    • Lithium-ion batteries
    • Lithium-air batteries
    • Hydrogen fuel cells

    Aircraft manufacturers are already showing an interest in creating designs for planes that operate with zero emissions. September of 2020 was a landmark month for hydrogen powered aircraft with two important announcements:

    Sep. 21 - Airbus introduction of ZEROe concept planes
    Sep. 24 - ZeroAvia Completes World's First Hydrogen-Electric Passenger Plane Flight

    Over the next years, we will see more and more flights with zero emissions. These will initially be smaller planes carrying less than 50 passengers over shorter distances. They will either be powered by hydrogen fuel cells or come as electric vehicles that can take off and land vertically (eVTOLs). There are currently around 200 electric aviation companies/start-ups backed by more than $1 billion from investors around the world. These companies are working on regional aircraft and shorter distance urban air mobility solutions such as point-to-point flying taxis, electric multi-copters, and personal passenger drones. Take a look at some of these companies and their concept designs below (in addition to what I showcase in the video).

    Hope you find this video informative. As always, please let me know what you think in the comments section.
    Electric Aircraft: How and When will it Happen?
    Learn how we might reduce the dependency on jet fuel in airplanes.

    OCTOBER 10, 2020
    Alice by Eviation

    All electric (lithium ion battery powered) prototype currently under development.

    Designed to fly 9 passengers (+2 crew) with a range of 540 NM at 240 KTS

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    An winged eVTOL with eight electric propellers for vertical lift and two ducted pusher propeller with a capacity for 4 passengers (+1 pilot), designed to cruise at 2,600-3,300 ft. One of the announced program partners for Uber Elevate.

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    CityBus by Airbus

    An autonomous, all-electric intracity wingless eVTOL being designed by Airbus with a 4 passenger capacity and a range of 60 miles and top speed of 75 mph.

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    Bell Nexus 6HX

    A semi-autonomous, hybrid-electric wingless VTOL (6 tilt-rotors all with 8ft
    diameter) with a 4 passenger (+1 pilot) capacity and a range of 150 miles and top speed of 150 mph.

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    EHang 216

    An autonomous wingless eVTOL for two passengers (or 485 lbs total payload) and a range of 22 miles (with max paylod) and top speed of 80 mph.

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    Skai by Alaka'i Technologies

    A semi-autonomous wingless VTOL powered by Hydrogen Fuel Cell. Four passengers (and a pilot) with a range of 400 miles and top speed of 118 mph.

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    Alia by Beta Technologies

    An all-electric semi-autonomous wingless VTOL with four vertical lift propellers and one rear pusher propeller. Six seat passenger capacity and 50 ft wingspan

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