Nowadays electricity is a HUGE part of our world and perhaps nobody could imagine living without it anymore. Starting from a single light bulb and ending with electric transportation, electricity is seen as a beneficial energy source of almost everything.
When we said "transportation", we weren't talking only about cars and public transportation. Electric aviation might have a bright future too, however, some circumstances have to be thought wisely of.
Even though electric transport has a lot of pros, everything is more difficult when it comes to planes than it is with cars. Below you will find more facts about electric aviation, some already electricity-based planes, and a cherry on the top of a cake...
The main benefits
Gas is being changed by electricity for a reason. More precisely, for more than one reason. Such changes do a great impact on both the human race and our planet. Want to learn more about these benefits? All information is provided for you here:
Decreased CO2 emissions
It is not a surprise that air pollution is becoming a more and more serious problem in our moving world. Cars, factories, air transport. The following one is responsible for over 2% of the carbon emissions that are thrown out into the air.
Imagine what clear air we would breathe if ALL transport went electric? A decrease in CO2 emissions has a great impact not only on us, humans, but also on animals, nature, and the ozone layer that has been thinning for a while now.
Lower costs overall
Another sweet benefit of electricity-based energy is that it is much cheaper than gas-operated engines! Talking about electric aviation, the fee for one flight hour can decrease significantly.
Furthermore, electric engines are easier to take care of. This equals a lower amount of expenditure that is needed for the plane's maintenance. All in all, electricity seems to benefit everyone who is involved in aviation - pilots, their passengers, aircraft manufacturers, airlines.
Decrease of the engine noise level
If you have ever gone through a private pilot training program in your country, you supposedly have noticed that there are some forbidden areas where your plane can't fly above due to excessive noise that is caused by the engine.
It's no secret that there always appears a group of people who are unhappy and concerned about the noises that come from flying aircraft. Electric engines might reduce that problem significantly. When an electric car is on run mode, you can barely hear it, right? The same should go for aeroplanes.
Do you know the phrase "everything isn't that beautiful as it looks"? Well, it fits the unknown future of electric aviation. According to popular news sources, electricity-based aircraft is already present since the 1970s, however, it still hasn't conquered the sky yet. The question here is "why"?
Too much weight for take-off
If you're interested in aviation, you perhaps know that all manufacturers try to minimize the plane's weight as much as possible for a smooth take-off and flight. Everything - fuel, luggage, passengers, the flight crew is added to the total acceptable mass number.
When it comes to electricity-based aircraft, the batteries would also add extra weight. Looking at how much the technology has stepped forward already, for batteries to be powerful enough and provide bigger planes with enough energy, they have to be big.
According to some aviation specialists, if you add a huge battery to the aeroplane, it will experience take-off problems due to the increased mass, so it will require a more powerful, i.e. an even heavier battery, to compensate for the weight growth, and so on... The cycle looks endless here because you will always need to offset the added weight.
Difficult approval by the FAA
Each newly-designed aeroplane needs to be certified by the FAA, i.e. Federal Aviation Administration. The safety requirements for aircraft are high and the certification is not easy to get.
Plane manufacturers have to prove to the FAA that their transport is safe enough for flying and carrying passengers by going through multiple tests. When it comes to electricity-based aircraft, it is very important that the batteries and their cells aren't placed near a potential fire source.
Since the world has already been introduced to a small part of electric aviation, we decided to research some aircraft that already are electricity-based. Here are two successful models:
Alpha Electro. This is a two-seat pilot training plane that has been created by Pipistrel. The aircraft has been on the market since 2017 and has already been manufactured in series. The total battery life is 50 minutes and can be recharged in 45 minutes.
Bristell Energic. An electricity-based plane that was airborne in 2019. This model also appears to be suitable for student pilot training as it can fly on electric energy for one hour.
We are used to the basic model that engines are provided with electricity from batteries. An aircraft designer named Michal Bonikowski has been seeing everything from a different angle. He believes that batteries can be placed with... air friction!
The main idea is to construct an aircraft that could run on renewable electricity energy that comes from air molecules that can be found in the troposphere and stratosphere. This way the aeroplane can be made way lighter because it wouldn't need battery cells or fuel tanks.
To sum up...
Even though electric aviation has still a long path to cover, it has already shown success and aviation experts are thinking faithfully about further development in the upcoming 15 years.
The main goal here is to invest in making batteries smaller but more powerful for a bigger plane to take off and stay in the air for a decent time.