Cleaner, greener air travel is crucial to the future of the aerospace industry. Reducing carbon emissions and creating more sustainable aircraft is a key focus of all the major manufacturers.
But, in an industry where new developments can sometimes take over a decade to come to market, it’s crucial that the foundations of change are laid at the earliest possible stage.
Researchers from the University’s Institute for Aerospace Technology (IAT) and Power Electronics, Machines and Control research group (PEMC) are looking at ways of not only reducing the energy consumed by the aircraft of the future, but also at standardising the way these new developments are talked about - ensuring everyone in the industry is working towards a common goal.
As Professor Serhiy Bozhko, Director of the IAT, explains: “Our research addresses the global challenges of combating climate change and achieving a sustainable future, which means finding ways of significantly reducing carbon emissions and the use of fossil fuels. A step change in technologies is needed to achieve greener solutions.
“We focus on providing innovative tools and processes that are essential for the future delivery of electrified transportation.”
The development of a common language in the industry has meant that development has occurred faster and collaboration has improved
The Institute’s world-leading research looks predominantly at the use of More Electric Aircraft (MEA) - those that use more electric components than current planes – and All Electric Aircraft (AEA) and has attracted funding of more than £50 million since 2006. Its work with all the major aviation companies including Airbus and Boeing has led to fundamental changes in design practices.
As well as the technical application of this design, one of the key pieces of work has been the development of a common language, or standards, in which to talk about this new technology.
Professor Bozhko said: “As the concept of MEA and AEA is still relatively new, there was a lack of a common language within the industry. The need for this consistent terminology became obvious as different companies and even different teams within the same company were using different terms for effectively the same operations. The development of a common language in the aerospace industry has meant that development has occurred faster and collaboration has improved.”
This work has led to the development of a new standard by SAE, the global body responsible for regulation of the industry. Aircraft Electrical Power Systems. Modelling and Simulation. Definitions is now directly used by aerospace companies significantly improving their collaboration worldwide.