In the last few months, we’ve noticed two trends in the aerospace sector become more popular and we expect these to continue into 2019. The first is the trend for electromechanical actuation. The second is the trend for electric planes designed for short hub and personal travel, writes Graham Mackrell, managing director at Harmonic Drive UK.
The main trend taking off this year is the shift towards aircraft manufacturers using more electromechanical actuation. Where this kind of actuation was previously limited to the likes of steering hydraulics, it has now spread to aircraft landing gears and flaps as more manufacturers attempt to go completely electric.
This makes sense. After all, the aerospace industry is looking to embrace IoT technology as part of the wider push towards Aerospace 4.0. Electric actuation allows aircraft engineers to take advantage of smart sensors to give pilots access to real-time system data. We are happy to see this shift, as Harmonic Drive’s Strain Wave gears are used by many large aerospace companies because they work well with electric actuation.
A surprise trend is the increased popularity of electric aeroplanes, which are touted to become major players in hub travel or short travel for journeys carrying 100–1000 people. Many electric aircraft manufacturers are also looking to enter the helicopter market for high-end personal transport.
This is supported by the IATA 2035 report that suggests there may be a shift towards more point-to-point travel. This will increase short distance travel between secondary and tertiary airports, a key area targeted by electric aircraft as a method to alleviate increasing congestion at hubs.
Some of these developers are even proposing the use of electric airplanes as alternatives to passenger cars for short commutes. One company, Samad Aerospace, is developing a business-class private electric-aircraft for commuting. We are sure there will be many similar projects announced in the future as the technology for electric planes matures.