France announces a €50B investment in Zero Carbon A320
EASA certificates an all electric aircraft
Should the US invest now in future aerospace investment?
As the global aeronautical industry recovers from the two-headed dragon of the Max 8 disaster and COVID-19, Europe is moving towards the future. A €15B investment in a Carbon Zero version of the A320 was announced by the French Government. Then, Pipistrel Velis Electro was type certificated by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). That advance was the result of a private corporation’s capital commitment.
“France has announced that over the coming years it plans to invest into aerospace industry €15 billion, which will come as an aid package for the heavily affected industry. Among the most significant plans – ambition to build an Airbus A320 successor.
According to French Government, production of a new and greener aircraft on the basis of the A320 as well as development of a new highly-efficient regional aircraft are among the top priorities.
The new bird, the successor to the A320, will be manufactured with a special focus on environmental features. Initially, is expected to have 30% improved fuel consumption and be capable of flying using only biofuel. Later, the newly-developed plane is set to fly using zero-emission hydrogen-based technology.
…France is determined to remain among the leaders in the aircraft manufacturing field and will put its close focus on researching and developing the future plane with low carbon emissions.
The country will invest in transforming and upgrading its aerospace sector, will review production lines and improve the processes to establish itself as even stronger player on the market of future technologies.”
The aircraft is powered by the first certified electrical engine, the E-811-268MVLC, certified by EASA for Pipistrel on May 18, 2020. The entire certification was completed in less than three years.
The powertrain is entirely liquid-cooled, including the batteries, and has demonstrated the ability to withstand faults, battery thermal runaway events, and crash loads as part of the certification process.
“The overall result of all these breakthrough innovations is a drastic reduction in the operating costs, significantly contributing to the affordability of pilot training,” company officials said.
“The type certification of the Pipistrel Velis Electro is the first step towards the commercial use of electric aircraft, which is needed to make emission-free aviation feasible. It is considerably quieter than other airplanes and produces no combustion gases at all,” said Ivo Boscarol, founder and CEO of Pipistrel Aircraft. “It confirms and provides optimism, to other electric aircraft designers, that the Type Certificate of electric engines and airplanes is possible.”
“The engine, which Pipistrel type certified separately, is also available to other aircraft OEMs,” he continued.
“For EASA, the type certification of this aircraft marks a significant dual milestone: On May 18, 2020, we type certified its engine as the first electric engine. Now we have followed up with the first type certification of a plane flying that engine. This was a truly ground-breaking project which has yielded many learnings for the future certification of electric engines and aircraft, undoubtedly a growth area in coming years in line with the aims of environmental protection.”
“It should also be noted that this innovative product was, despite the many challenging aspects, certified in less than three years, showing the excellent work performed by Pipistrel and the EASA teams,” he continued. “Finally, it is worth mentioning that the certification team was composed of EASA staff, but included experts from the Swiss and French authorities, in order to prepare and facilitate the entry into service of the Velis Electro in these two countries.”
The Executive Branch and the Congress are in the process of selecting areas in which to invest for the economic recovery. The robust reserves, which have characterized the US aerospace industry in the past, have been depleted through the recent and impending financial pressures. Allocating funds for research and development should be considered by the US Government as a response to Europe and as a wise use of its capital based on future returns.
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