NASA has selected two US companies to research electric propulsion solutions for aircraft, with the goal of introducing this technology to US aviation fleets by 2035.
The companies GE Aviation and MagniX will carry out their work over the following five years. This comprises ground and flight tests and partnerships with other NASA projects focusing on electric propulsion, data analysis, and flight test instrumentation.
The awards, made through the agency’s Electric Powertrain Flight Demonstration (EPFD) program, are worth a total of $253.4 million. GE Aviation received $179 million, while MagniX received $74.3 million.
“GE Aviation and MagniX will perform integrated megawatt-class powertrain system ground and flight demonstrations to validate their concepts and project benefits for future EAP aircraft configurations,” said EPFD Project Manager Gaudy Bezos-O’Conner, of NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia. “These demonstrations will identify and retire technical barriers and integration risks. It will also help inform the development of standards and regulations for future EAP systems.”
The EPFD project is part of a greater NASA initiative known as Integrated Aviation Systems, which conducts research and development to translate cutting-edge technology into practical flight systems.
“Significant improvements in the economic and environmental performance of subsonic transports can be achieved by incorporating these novel alternative propulsion and power technologies into the fleet,” said Deputy Administrator Robert Pearce at NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate in the agency’s headquarters in Washington, in the release.
“By taking these concepts to flight, NASA and its partners will accelerate the transition of EAP technologies into commercial products and be a catalyst for economic growth,” added Pearce. “We expect to realize significant improvements in the economic and environmental performance of subsonic transports through the incorporation of these novel alternative propulsion and energy technologies into the fleet.”
A Singaporean company declared in June 2021 that a hydrogen-electric passenger plane would travel over the South Atlantic. ‘Element One,’ a future HES Energy Systems aircraft, maybe the first hydrogen-fueled unmanned aircraft to achieve this feat. If it comes to fruition, it will demonstrate that all-electric isn’t the only way to achieve sustainable, zero-emission travel, as MarketsandMarkets forecasted a $7.427 million market for hydrogen aircraft by 2030.
Many eVTOL air taxis are also being developed, one of which has already started testing under NASA’s supervision. In addition, as NASA begins awarding contracts for short-range electric passenger aircraft, the agency’s participation in eVTOL testing for this new aircraft will likely become more prevalent.