ADS Group has released a new white paper detailing a new model for electric aviation in the UK

“Distributed Aviation: A new economic model for electric aviation” has been published by the trade organisation’s Advanced Air Mobility Group. The Group champions the UK as a world-leader in advanced air mobility and includes a number of ADS Group members involved in smaller vehicle, autonomous and electric vehicle sectors.

The white paper describes distributed aviation as a time when electric propulsion systems dramatically disrupt the economics of hydrocarbon aviation, creating a new sector that is low in environmental impact and high in economic contribution. The sector includes electric aircraft, including Conventional/Short Take Off and Landing (eC/STOL) and Vertical Take Off and Landing (eVTOL), powered by electric and hybrid power sources, which have the potential to significantly change the way we travel on a sub-regional basis (30-300km for eVTOL & 100–1000km for eC/STOL).

Economics and increased interconnectivity of sub-regional airlines discussed

Sub-regional flights are currently undertaken at smaller secondary and general aviation airports and city vertiports where they may be closer to the passenger’s true origin or destination. The paper discusses the economics and impact of electric aircraft which will allow sub-regional airlines to operate routes which are not currently economically viable for hydrocarbon powered aircraft.

It adds that the flexibility of eVTOL to operate from congested urban and city centres will significantly increase the utility of electric propulsion systems – this due to reduced noise footprint according to Joby and Volocopter. These systems will increase the interconnectedness of mass transit networks, complementing existing public transport systems.

Harini Kulatunga, Head of UK Urban Air Mobility at Airbus and Chair, of the ADS AAM Group, said: “We are at a challenging time in aviation with a global disruption in travel impacting long understood business models. At the same time there is growing excitement in disruptive technology and potential new customer service models with private and public investment driving this change.”

“At this time, ADS Group is delighted to publish this paper which brings forward a new perspective in sub-regional air travel and its potential to connect communities and create new commercial opportunities for both aviation and local business. The new emerging aerospace technologies are making it possible to create a commercially viable and sustainable new mode of transport.”

Secure system will offer economical sub-regional air travel

“The engineering and services skills that exist in this country can be harnessed to bring the required systems of autonomy, airspace deconfliction and navigation and electrification together in a safe and secure system offering sub-regional air travel that is economical in comparison to surface transport. We stand at a transformative corner for the industry and the UK is well placed to lead the way forward.”

The white paper, which can be viewed here, discusses topics including:

  • The rise of electric low cost carriers
  • Comparisons between the economics of hydrocarbon aviation and the economics of electric aviations
  • Why point-to-point aviation hasn’t worked before
  • A mini-study on the potential for electric aviation in the UK
  • The future of electric aviation

The white paper states: “Distributed Aviation is an economic opportunity that is a win for all the associated stakeholders. Electric aviation will accelerate the sustainable development of long-haul aircraft and also create a new parallel market that generates huge economic activity and decreases the environmental impact of the UK’s existing and future mass transit mix.”

“The rapid development of inter-related technologies and the emergence of systems engineering techniques that enable the integration of complex systems in a safer, faster and cheaper way mean that it is now possible to develop the complex system of systems required to support distributed point-to-point electric aviation. Development of this system of systems has been a focus of the UKRI Future Flight Challenge as well as NASA.”

The paper also added that the UK was “uniquely placed to exploit the economic opportunity that this represents” adding that expanded support from the government to both industry and academia for the development of electric air vehicles, supporting systems and infrastructure would enable the UK to “lead the world into a new aviation revolution of Distributed Aviation.”

Click here to read the whole of Distributed Aviation