As aviation technology continues to advance alongside a growing push for climate-friendly air travel, more aircraft manufacturers and engineers are seeking ways in which flying can be made “greener.” A major way in which the industry is seeking to combat climate change is through the adoption and improvement of electric aircraft, those of which have been in development for some time. In this blog, we will discuss the future of greener air travel and the efforts being made by the aviation industry, allowing you to keep up with an ever-changing market.
There are many benefits to operating an electric plane, ranging from their reduced emissions to the savings brought on by operators not needing to purchase any fuel. Rather than featuring a traditional gas turbine or piston engine that runs on fuel, electric aircraft take advantage of batteries that provide the power necessary for driving systems and creating propulsion. Although major advancements have been made to batteries and electric aircraft over the past few decades, there is still the issue with weight that has made a full switch to electric materials and technology more difficult in the present. Nevertheless, there are important advantages to be aware of.
There are many companies that are spearheading initiatives for airplane batteries and electric powered flight, and numerous entities have found significant benefits that make such technology advantageous. For instance, the company magniX has been developing an aircraft known as the eCaravan, and they currently state that their aircraft surpasses the performance of fossil-fuel, piston-powered aircraft when traveling upwards of 1,000 miles. As around half of passenger flights across the world operate within this distance range, many operators can potentially benefit from adopting the electric plane. Alongside this increased performance, battery powered planes would also reduce damage to the environment and mitigate wasted fuel.
Alongside such benefits, proponents of electric aircraft technology also argue that such airplanes surpass fossil fuel alternatives in terms of their noise levels, safety, and operational cost. When comparing the eCaravan aircraft to its counterparts, the plane was able to conduct a half hour flight for only $6 worth of electricity, as opposed to the $300 cost of the same flight with kerosene. Furthermore, the operation of electric components were found to be significantly quieter as compared to typical gasoline engines which exhibit noise levels that were twice as loud. Coupled with the reduced weight of electric motors and decreased maintenance needs, electric motors can easily save operators money throughout operations.
While all of the aforementioned points are clear advantages of the electric plane, there are certain reasons for why they have not had widespread adoption quite yet. Generally, the range of an electric aircraft is based on how heavy of a battery that they can carry. As current battery technology often weighs 30x more than the energy-equivalent volume of kerosene, most modern electric aircraft are fairly limited in their operational range. For instance, the previously mentioned eCaravan aircraft has an established range of around 100 miles, that of which is much less than the equivalent weight Cessna Caravan. Despite this, engineers are focusing an intensive amount of effort on advancing battery power and electric materials, meaning that these issues may be resolved in the coming years.
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