Electric Planes Take Off

Wed, 04 May 2022 11:00:00 GMT
Scientific American - Technology

More than 170 projects are underway worldwide

Pipistrel will be part of a new division focused on the development of battery- and fuel-cell-powered electric aircraft.

The move is the latest in a growing global race to develop electric planes.

A report from NREL - one of the laboratories that serves the Department of Energy - predicts the market could see "Strong growth starting in 2028," when the first 50- to 70-seat electric aircraft are expected to appear.

From half to two-thirds of the energy in conventional jet or piston-powered aircraft "Goes right out of the tailpipe," it noted, while an electric motor uses 90 percent of the energy it gets from batteries to turn propellers.

Textron is one of several aircraft companies that see themselves pioneering a variety of profitable ways to use electric aircraft.

Boeing Co. is working with General Electric Aviation and NASA on modifying a conventional aircraft with electric turboprop engines to carry between 30 and 36 passengers.

Boeing is also investing $450 million in an electric air taxi, a small plane that can take off and land like a helicopter.

In the 1980s, a number of enthusiasts were trying to make the light, kite-like aircraft go faster and farther, but Boscarol, who ran a small photography business, beat them all, starting with small electric motors and a tricycle-like fuselage.

Pipistrel had tried out thousands of variations of electric planes and found success in several designs.

According to Rob Scholl, who heads Textron's new division to make electric aircraft, Boscarol will be a consultant to help the Velis Electro break into the first emerging business for electric aircraft, which will be to train commercial pilots.

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