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1 December 2023

Electric aircraft transform air mobility

Electric aviation not only represents a cleaner solution but also fosters innovation in sustainable energy sources and autonomous flight technologies. This comprehensive approach is transforming the way we think about and approach air transport. 

Electric air mobility has been developing steadily for several years. In particular, vehicles known as eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) are leading the way in this sector, which aims to become a viable alternative to ground taxis for certain journeys in the coming years.

Electric aircraft are distinguished from conventional aircraft due to their operation based on motors powered by electric batteries. This process is similar to that of electric cars on the roads.

Modern aircraft employ batteries designed to cope with the demands of flight, supplying the energy needed to propel propellers or turbines. The result is a quieter, more efficient and, above all, environmentally friendly journey.

Some European cities are adopting these electric vehicles for upcoming events, such as Paris with the 2024 Olympic Games. Similar projects are also being developed in other areas of the world, like the Volocopter, which has successfully completed its first test flight at the Manhattan heliport in New York.

This latest project called Volocopter is dedicated to developing sustainable and scalable solutions for urban air mobility. It is one of the most relevant initiatives to revolutionise air transport, as it aims to implement accessible air taxi services for both freight and passenger transport in major metropolises around the world.

 

Advantages of Electric Aircraft

The electricity that powers these modern devices comes from renewable sources. In the future, airports equipped with charging stations powered by solar, wind or hydroelectric energy are envisioned. This approach not only reduces in-flight carbon emissions, but also ensures that the entire supply chain, from generation to energy consumption, has minimal environmental impact.

Electric aircraft provide cleaner, faster and more comfortable means of transport, especially in remote regions and in isolated geographical locations. An example of this is the experience of the Nordic countries, which face significant accessibility challenges in their distant areas. In these areas with vast expanses of water, forests, long coastlines and mountain ranges that limit mobility, electric aircraft offer an effective solution to overcome these geographical barriers.

Electric air vehicles offer improved energy efficiency. Electric propulsion in aviation provides notable advantages over internal combustion engines. Its superior efficiency reduces energy loss, enabling longer flights, and regenerative braking allows electric aircraft to recover energy during braking, maximising overall efficiency.

In addition, flexible energy management in power systems enables more effective optimisation by distributing energy efficiently. These systems also contribute to sustainability by reducing emissions and offer additional benefits such as simplified maintenance and reduced environmental impact. Although the technology still faces challenges, such as the development of advanced batteries, a shift towards more efficient and environmentally friendly aviation is on the horizon.

Spanish electric air mobility projects

The aviation industry constitutes a small fraction of global emissions, yet stands out as one of the most challenging sectors to achieve decarbonisation. The implementation of electric and hybrid aviation on short- and medium-haul flights could inaugurate an innovative paradigm in air transport services.

This approach could not only facilitate an efficient air mobility network at urban and regional level, but also bring positive co-benefits. It would also contribute to Europe's leadership in the transition to climate neutrality, consolidating its position in the industrial field.

In Spain, several projects are being developed for the implementation of electric mobility in air transport. One such project is the Integrity aerial vehicle from the company Crisalion Mobility. This vehicle will have capacity for six passengers, including the pilot. Its electric range is estimated at approximately 100 kilometres, allowing flights at a cruising speed of 180 km/h. These features make it ideal for short or medium routes.

The concept of Integrity is flexible and adaptable, as it can adjust various elements to meet different needs. This includes the possibility to increase the carrying capacity or to be specifically dedicated to emergency medical transport. This versatile approach expands the vehicle's application possibilities, highlighting its ability to adapt to various situations and needs.

EcoPulse, a project by Airbus, seeks to reinvent air travel. This hybrid aircraft combines electric and thermal technologies with the aim of maximizing its efficiency while minimizing emissions into the atmosphere. This idea comes in response to the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions in aviation. With an eye to the future, these companies set out to develop a hybrid aircraft that would combine the best of both electric and combustion engines.

Technological advances in batteries and electric motors are driving the viability and reliability of electric aircraft, marking remarkable progress in the industry, promoting more environmentally friendly practices, and leading to significant advances in the aviation industry. The coming years promise a very significant development of a sector that is already beginning to take off.

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