What Is Electric Aircraft Propulsion and How Does It Work?

As aircraft manufacturers across the globe begin to move toward more green initiatives, the fully electric powered aircraft is slowly becoming more of a reality. For most current engines, aircraft propulsion is made possible through the combustion of various types of fossil fuels for driving systems and generating thrust. With electric power systems, no combustion would take place, so it begs the question of how electric aircraft will achieve their propulsion. In this blog, we will discuss electric aircraft propulsion and how it works, allowing for you to have a better grasp on future technology and the changes it will bring.

Stated before, the modern internal combustion engine creates propulsion through the ignition of fuel-and-air mixtures. However, electric powered aircraft would be designed to utilize an electric motor for such operations. The motor may be the sole source of thrust for the entire system, or it may be paired with a standard internal combustion engine to augment power production and/or provide boosts of power as necessary. Alongside the electric motor would also be various motor control hardware, cooling systems, and gearboxes that all work together as an integrated system known as an electric propulsion unit (EPU).

The current obstacle for electric powered aircraft is the batteries that would power them as current battery technology is somewhat limited in terms of power to weight ratios. Nevertheless, this technology is quickly advancing, and future electrical aircraft would utilize high-tech batteries, powerful fuel cells, and ultra-efficient generators for the means of both powering the aircraft and maintaining a charge in the battery packs.

There are various companies that are spearheading such power generation and conversion technologies, including Honeywell, DENSO, and others. For instance, Honeywell has been developing a powerful, one-megawatt turbo-generator that would greatly reduce carbon emissions through its ability to operate on biofuels instead of standard fossil fuels. Additionally, Class I and II UAS platforms are already beginning to be powered with hydrogen fuel cells, another initiative by Honeywell to move toward fully electric flight.

In the present, there are a few aircraft that are pushing the limits of electric propulsion, and the realization of commercially available electric aircraft is ever closer. For example, the Velis Electro from Pipistel is a recently designed aircraft that serves as the first electric aircraft to secure type certification from the EASA, that of which occured in 2020. While only having a 50-minute endurance capability with cruise speeds of 90 kN, this is a huge step in the direction of electric aircraft availability as the aircraft is planned to serve training purposes. Additionally, Diamond Aircraft announced the development of the eDA40 in 2021, the model touting upward of 90 minutes while saving pilots up to 40% on their operating costs when compared to standard piston power.

While electric aircraft being commonplace is still a future prospect, it is quickly approaching with various endeavors and initiatives being spearheaded across the globe. If you are in need of new, used, obsolete, or hard-to-find aircraft components to carry out your operations, look no further than Parts Needed Yesterday. We have over 2 billion items ready for purchase on our database, and we offer competitive pricing and rapid lead-times to keep your business running strong. If you happen to be facing a time constraint, rest easy knowing that our supply chain network stretching across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom allows us to expedite the shipping process for domestic and international orders alike. If you have any questions regarding our services, you can give us a quick call or email, and we would be happy to help! Experience how Parts Needed Yesterday can serve you when you get in touch with a representative of ours!


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