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Electric Aircraft Technology: Is The Future Really Green?

Battery-powered aircraft is set to become the next disruptive technology to have a positive impact on saving the environment.

Aviation engineers are exploring multiple solutions they hope will reduce the amount of CO2 emissions commercial aircraft pummel into the atmosphere each year.

Whilst optimistic progress is being made, there is one proposal that stands out above the rest – Electric aircraft technology (EAT).

It is anticipated that EAT will reduce short-haul flights to a zero-emissions and help to lower the cost of flying for both airlines and passengers.

Electric aircraft technology is developing rapidly and has already been adopted by several European countries, the USA and Australia. The goal is to make every short-haul commercial flights 100% battery-powered over the next 20 years.

Government Aviation Laws

With more people taking to the skies than ever before, there is an increasing dependency on global aviation.

However, according to the International Aviation Organisation, in the current paradigm, expansion will triple the industries carbon emissions by 2050.

The aviation industry already contributes 12% of manmade carbon emissions and emits pollutants that add smog and soot to the air quality of towns and cities that surround airports.

Governments recognise the dangers posed by the increasing amounts of aviation fuel. To counteract the problem, a raft of aviation laws and regulations are being introduced.  

The European Parliament has already implemented a carbon-trading program among airlines to create a marketplace which governs trading and buying allowances for carbon-fuels.

In the US, the Environmental Protection Agency is developing a proposal to limit emissions in a similar policy to that which has been forced on road users and power plants.

Battery-Powered Planes

There have been several solutions proposed to introduce low-emission alternative fuels into the aviation industry. The most cost-effective is zero emission batteries that run on electricity.

Battery-powered planes would cost less to run than the jet fuel which is currently used. Not only does EAT avoid emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, but it will also reduce the cost of airfares.

EAT is still in the development stages but is expected to be available to commercial airlines in the next decade. The biggest problem is manufacturing batteries that are capable of powering a plane over a significant distance.

Aviation engineers are relying on battery innovation; batteries need to shrink in weight and volume down to 25 tonnes.

Current proposals include installing changeable battery packs onto aircraft. This would mean that planes landing for refueling are not delaying the flight time for too long and keeping passengers waiting.

Aircraft also has to be made lighter. Manufacturers are already redesigning wingtips to improve the aerodynamics and using lightweight materials to expand efficiency and reduce fuel usage.

With campaigners for climate change pressing governments and aviation companies to reduce carbon emissions, leading law firms are preparing counsel to handle expected changes to industry regulations.

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