Electric flight is the future

The elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of avi­a­tion

Electric flight – emission-free, with a new look and quieter
Elec­tric flight – emis­sion-free, with a new look and qui­eter
Image 1/6, Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

Electric flight – emission-free, with a new look and quieter

Elec­tric flight com­bines sev­er­al ad­van­tages; it is lo­cal­ly emis­sion-free, qui­eter, and makes com­plete­ly new mo­bil­i­ty op­tions pos­si­ble.
First flight of four-passenger fuel cell aircraft
First flight of four-pas­sen­ger fu­el cell air­craft
Image 2/6, Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

First flight of four-passenger fuel cell aircraft

In Septem­ber 2016, Hy4, the first four-seater pas­sen­ger air­craft pow­ered sole­ly by a fu­el cell sys­tem, em­barked on its first flight from Stuttgart air­port.
The road to climate-neutral aircraft
The road to cli­mate-neu­tral air­craft
Image 3/6, Credit: © DLR. All rights reserved

The road to climate-neutral aircraft

DLR is con­duct­ing a con­cep­tu­al study to bring an eco­log­i­cal­ly ef­fi­cient medi­um-haul air­craft in­to com­mer­cial flight by 2040.
Electric drive enables innovative aircraft concepts
Elec­tric drive en­ables in­no­va­tive air­craft con­cepts
Image 4/6, Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

Electric drive enables innovative aircraft concepts

Short and medi­um-haul air­craft con­cept with a hy­brid elec­tric drive.
Electromobility in the sky requires interdisciplinary research
Elec­tro­mo­bil­i­ty in the sky re­quires in­ter­dis­ci­plinary re­search
Image 5/6, Credit: © DLR. All rights reserved

Electromobility in the sky requires interdisciplinary research

Vi­sion­ary air­craft con­fig­u­ra­tions. A to­tal of 20 DLR in­sti­tutes from the fields of avi­a­tion, en­er­gy and at­mo­spher­ic re­search are con­tribut­ing their ex­per­tise to the EX­ACT (Ex­plo­ration of Elec­tric Air­craft Con­cepts and Tech­nol­o­gy) re­search project. The plan­ning of pro­duc­tion, op­er­a­tion and main­te­nance is in­cor­po­rat­ed in­to the air­craft de­sign from the start. Where­as in the past, air­craft were de­vel­oped pri­mar­i­ly based on cost con­sid­er­a­tions and their im­pact on the cli­mate was on­ly an­a­lyzed af­ter­wards, this pro­cess is be­ing re­versed for the first time in EX­ACT.
 Artist's im­pres­sion of the Electric Flight Demonstrator
Artist's im­pres­sion of the Elec­tric Flight Demon­stra­tor
Image 6/6, Credit: DLR/Hendrik Weber, www.wda.de

Artist's im­pres­sion of the Electric Flight Demonstrator

While so far on­ly bat­tery-pow­ered small air­craft are in op­er­a­tion and hy­brid-elec­tric small air­craft are cur­rent­ly un­der­go­ing flight tests, DLR, to­geth­er with Siemens, MTU Aero En­gines and RU­AG Avi­a­tion, has con­duct­ed a fea­si­bil­i­ty study for a 19-seat test air­craft based on a Dornier Do-228. The study shows promis­ing chances of suc­cess for the con­ver­sion and test­ing of a na­tion­al Elec­tric Flight Demon­stra­tor, which has a com­plete elec­tric propul­sion sys­tem in the 500-kilo­watt pow­er class in the ex­pan­sion stages of bat­tery elec­tric op­er­a­tion and hy­brid elec­tric op­er­a­tion with an ad­di­tion­al gas tur­bine gen­er­a­tor.

After all, forecasts predict that the global aircraft fleet will double in size over the next 20 years. In order to ensure the future viability of the air transport system, it is therefore vital to significantly reduce the negative impacts. As such, research into alternative propulsion systems is set to play a key role in aviation.

Electric flight promises great potential

To this end, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is conducting research into hybrid-electric aircraft, which could constitute an important building block for future aviation. Electric flight opens up completely new possibilities for drastically reducing pollutant emissions from aircraft, as well as significantly reducing noise pollution. In addition, electric engines make completely new aircraft configurations possible, which should further reduce fuel consumption and thus emissions. Overall, electric aircraft have the potential to fundamentally change mobility, as quiet, clean means of transport pave the way for flying shuttle services directly from city centres to the nearest large airport.

DLR is researching the vision of electric flight

DLR is the only large-scale research institution in Europe that is in a position to study all aspects of electric flight and address the questions that are yet to be answered. To that end, DLR is conducting research into different propulsion technologies – from initial concepts and simulations all the way through to their integration into new aircraft configurations. At the same time, the researchers are investigating how this will impact the overall air transport system, looking at the expected effects for travellers, airlines and airports.

In response to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, one of the most important goals for future aviation is to be able to use electric propulsion systems for freight and passenger aircraft.

Contact
  • Andreas Klöckner
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)

    Pro­gramme Strat­e­gy Aero­nau­tics
    Telephone: +49 2203 601-2449
    Linder Höhe
    51147 Cologne
    Contact
  • Annabel Brückmann
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)

    Pro­gramme Strat­e­gy Aero­nau­tics
    Telephone: +49 2203-601-5080
    Linder Höhe
    51147 Cologne
    Contact
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