What are the benefits of Electrified Aircraft Propulsion?
Research by NASA and its industry partners has shown that Electrified Aircraft Propulsion (EAP) concepts can reduce energy use, emissions, and operating costs to benefit both the public and airline operators. Several aircraft concepts serving the thin-haul (very short flights), regional, and single-aisle markets have been identified as targets of opportunity for this technology.
- Aviation produces 2-3% of all carbon emissions. By electrifying aircraft and reducing energy consumption, carbon and other types of emissions will be reduced.
- NASA’s EAP investments are focused on the single-aisle aircraft market, which comprises the largest segment of aviation fuel burn. Even small improvements in fuel efficiency in this market will have large impacts on emissions.
- EAP innovations have the potential to reinvigorate the regional and emerging smaller aircraft markets, and strengthen the single-aisle aircraft market.
- Potential reduction in maintenance and in-flight energy costs can make electrified aircraft concepts more cost effective than traditional aircraft, for both airline companies and the flying public.
Spin–off Benefits of Other Applications:
EAP technologies can be applied to other ground-based applications, adding to the research investment benefits.
- Lightweight, efficient motors and power systems are applicable to windmills, ships, and mobile generator stations.
- Mass production of EAP technology for ground applications can help lower production costs of EAP components for both the aviation and spin–off applications.
What is NASA doing to turn Electrified Aircraft Propulsion into reality?
Though partnerships with U.S. industry, NASA intends to accelerate integrated megawatt-class powertrain system maturation and transition to the global fleet, as well as identify and address gaps in regulations and standards and acquire necessary ground and flight test data to advance design and modeling tools pertinent to future aircraft products with an EAP system.
To turn the promise of EAP benefits into reality, NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate has made a critical commitment to demonstrate practical vehicle-level integration of megawatt-class EAP systems, leveraging advanced airframe systems to reinvigorate the regional and emerging smaller aircraft markets, and to strengthen the single-aisle aircraft market.
The demonstrations will help rapidly mature and transition integrated Electrified Aircraft Propulsion (EAP) technologies and associated EAP vision systems for introduction into the global fleet by 2035. Integrated EAP concepts are rapidly emerging as potentially transformative solutions to significantly improve the environmental sustainability of the next generation of subsonic transport vehicles. EAP electrical systems are being developed to replace or boost fuel-burning aircraft propulsion systems, analogous to how electric or hybrid motors are used in automobiles.
EAP Elements of the NASA Aeronautics Strategic Implementation Plan
Aeronautics research has long provided the basis for new concepts leading to industry innovation and societal benefits. Future aviation challenges include meeting rising global demand, integration of unmanned and other innovative vehicle concepts, and proactive adaptability to changing conditions all with minimum impact on the environment. To address these challenges, the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) will continue to undertake research and development that falls outside the scale, risk, and payback criteria that govern commercial investments.
ARMD’s strategy focuses on high-impact research investments that will enable the transformation of aviation to serve future needs, produce demonstrable benefits, and leverage technological advances both in and outside of traditional aviation disciplines. Major technologies include alternative fuels electric or hybrid propulsion, low-sonic-boom supersonic flight, automation and autonomy, and technology convergence. The technologies will develop transformative solutions to enable a safe, efficient, and environmentally sustainable global aviation system.
Download the NASA Aeronautics Strategic Implementation Plan