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Technologies for a new generation of small electric aircraft
Moore, Mark D. Langley Research Center, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Hampton, Virginia.
- Prototype aircraft
- Differences from existing propulsion
- Scale-free technology
- Emerging vehicles, missions, and technologies
- Future of electric aircraft
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
A dramatic change in aircraft propulsion is just beginning to take place that will likely be more significant than the change from internal combustion to turbine-based engines that took place in the 1950s. Electric propulsion has different characteristics than existing solutions, offering the potential for opening up entirely new types of aircraft configurations with capabilities that have long been desired but were impractical. Most significantly, current aviation propulsion systems have been limited to isolated and centralized integrations, whereas electric propulsion naturally wants to be highly integrated and distributed across the airframe to achieve synergistic coupling among propulsion, aerodynamics, acoustics, control, and even structural disciplines. Electric propulsion technologies are already being tested in prototype small aircraft, but they will soon be applied to many additional aviation products where shorter-range or -endurance missions are acceptable. See also: Hybrid electric and universally electric aircraft concepts
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