IEEE Electrification Magazine - December 2017 - 8

VIEWPOINT

topologies for electric motors that
range of beyond lithium-ion chemisdeliver enhanced efficiency and high
tries nearing commercialization, led
power-to-weight ratios. Taking a cue
by solid-state technologies, will
again from ground vehicles, regeneraextend the impact to the longer
tive braking modes and other perforranges we forecast.
mance transients have compelled
The benefits to travelers from
improvements in supercapacitors to
series-electric to all-electric regional
augment batteries for
aircraft will be manitemporary power
fold. The mode will
Electrified propulsion
storage. The advanclight up a vast stock
opens the door to a
es will help electric
of underused regionairplanes in a similar
al and local airports
new era of aviation,
manner by saving
across much of the
likely to rival the
energy and reducing
world-numbering
70-year transformation
the size of the battery.
more than 10,000 in
of global travel
Alternative sourcthe United States
es of power are also
alone-to address a
enabled by gas
rapidly maturing.
transport gap in the
turbines.
Gas turbine engines
100-1,000-mi range.
matched to highOver these distances,
efficiency generators
highways and conto provide lightweight, compact
ventional aviation are suboptimal,
power sources are being commerand high-speed rail, the only altercialized. The growing interest in this
native, is limited given the heavy
market has prompted investment in
infrastructure needs to just a few highsmaller gas turbines (0.5-2 MW),
density corridors. Coupled with new
where advances in three-dimenmobility on the ground enabled by
sional printing and computational
real-time ride-sharing and autonodesign tools promise higher fuel effimous vehicles, door-to-door travel will
ciency and lower costs. Meanwhile,
become two to four times faster than
fuel cells are developing rapidly,
transit options today.
given the application across ground
Using data from studies in the
vehicles and power generation. Our
United States and the European
analyses indicate proton-exchange
Union (EU), we anticipate that betmembrane fuel cells are competitive
ween 7 and 15% of long-distance road
for small transport aircraft but need
trips under 1,000 mi could shift to
to surmount regulatory and infrafaster regional air. Besides reducing
structure hurdles in the near term.
emissions due to aircraft, replacing
Given this context, we forecast
ground vehicles with ultralow-emisthat the impact of electric regional
sions aircraft could reduce transporaircraft will extend from 600 mi in
tation emissions by a further 4-8%. As
the early 2020s to more than 1,000 mi
an additional environmental benefit,
by 2030. The first commercial airair quality around major airports will
craft flying these missions will be
improve due to the zero-emissions
series hybrids, supplementing batoperation of the hybrids on the
teries with gas turbines on longerground and the shift of a significant
range flights or to boost power durfraction of regional traffic to seconding events such as takeoff. The battery
ary and tertiary airports. Communienergy densities needed are not
ties around airports will experience
much greater than the 300 W/kg
significant noise reduction given the
available from lithium-ion cells
much quieter operation of the hybridtoday. However, the flurry of re electric aircrafts.
search pushing lithium-ion technolSeveral factors suggest that once
ogy to higher densities, along with a
hybrid-electric aircraft enter the

8

I E E E E l e c t r i f i cati o n M a gaz ine / DECEMBER 2017

market, they will quickly dominate
regional air. The adoption of groundelectric vehicles was impeded by
higher costs, but as these approach
parity, growth is accelerating. In contrast, hybrid-electric aircraft will
undercut the conventional aircraft
right from the start. Scale out will be
driven by the convenience of the
mode. Given the fast regional legs to
hubs, long-haul journeys will speed
up as well, lifting mobility nationwide. Moreover, supporting elements
are falling into place, such as NextGen and Single European Sky ATM
Research air-traffic control in the
United States and the EU, respectively, enabling all-weather global positioning system operation to secondary airports and enabling aircraft to
see others nearby via onboard Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast. We are a leading participant on
the Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA)/ASTM panels that are establishing a regulatory framework for electric aircraft under FAA Part 23, and we
see the final elements falling into
place in 2018. The resulting expansion of regional air will develop electrification technologies and supporting infrastructure, setting the stage
for long-haul aircraft to take to the
skies in the 2030s with only moderate
capital and risk.
Electrified propulsion opens the
door to a new era of aviation, likely
to rival the 70-year transformation of
global travel enabled by gas turbines.
Flying will become more local, more
affordable, more environmentally
sound, and, counterintuitively, more
mundane. When it becomes an accessible mode of travel to a far greater
share of the population, riding in an
airplane will eventually seem as
everyday common as riding in a car.

Biography
Waleed Said (waleed@zunum.aero)
is with Zunum Aero, Kirkland,
Washington.



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