Will flying ever be green?

April 7, 2023
The race is on to develop a battery-powered aircraft. But not everyone’s convinced it will bring us closer to net-zero flight, Christopher de Bellaigue writes for The Guardian.

LONDON - On 16 December 2021, a group of men dressed in the sober, branded casual wear of the Silicon Valley startup gathered on the asphalt at an airstrip outside Salinas, California. In front of them stood a black shiny capsule on three spindly legs, which resembled the offspring of a suppository and a golf trolley, with a V-tail like a humpback whale. Its single cross-span wing had four banks of three rotor blades – six at the front and six at the back – which made the sound of a loud hairdryer. As the spectators bobbed nervously from foot to foot, the machine rose into the air, tipped a bow, and hovered for 10 seconds or so before coming gently to earth. Everyone cheered and clapped and exchanged slightly standoffish hugs. Back in the headquarters of Archer Aviation in Palo Alto, watching events on a huge screen, the rest of the company’s employees were on their feet, whooping and whistling, Christopher de Bellaigue writes for The Guardian.

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The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:

7 April 2023 - In de Bellaigue's long-form piece for The Guardian, he touches on the technological and business realities of making commercial air travel more environmentally friendly, or "green," including the growing electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft market.

de Bellaigue cites the International Energy Agency's forecast that demand for electric power will nearly double in the 30 years between 2010 and 2040, but emissions in generating that power will only drop by 5%. In the end, de Bellaigue writes that taking an electric train in India may be more environmentally damaging than flying, whereas taking an eVTOL flight in Brazil (where a larger share of renewable energy powers the grid) is much more friendly than doing the same in coal-powered China.

In the piece, de Bellaigue talks to experts from across the aerospace and energy world in service of seeing just how sustainable technology can make commercial air travel.

Related: Archer Aviation's Maker eVTOL makes transition from vertical to cruise flight

Related: The progress and future of eVTOL avionics

Related: Honeywell and WPI to study hydrogen storage and power generation for aviation

Jamie Whitney, Associate Editor
Military + Aerospace Electronics

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