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Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft

  • IASbaba
  • June 7, 2022
  • 0
Science and Technology
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Syllabus

  • Prelims – Science and Technology
  • Mains – GS 3 (Science and Technology)

In News: The Government of India is exploring the possibility of inviting manufacturers of Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft to set up base in India.

What is eVTOL?

  • As the acronym suggests, an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft is one that uses electric power to hover, take off, and land vertically.
  • Most eVTOLs also use what is called as distributed electric propulsion technology which means integrating a complex propulsion system with the airframe.
  • It has grown on account of successes in electric propulsion based on progress in motor, battery, fuel cell and electronic controller technologies
  • Thus, eVTOL is one of the newer technologies and developments in the aerospace industry.
  • eVTOL is being described as “a runway independent technological solution” for the globe’s transportation needs – it opens up new possibilities which aircraft with engines cannot carry out in areas such as manoeuvrability, efficiency and even from the environmental point of view.
  • The global market for eVTOLs was put at $8.5 million in 2021 and is to grow to $30.8 million by 2030. The demand will be on account of green energy and noise-free aircraft, cargo carrying concepts and the need for new modes of transport.

Origin

  • It all began in 2009-10 by NASA researcher Mark D. Moore who came up with the concept of a personal (one man) air vehicle “Puffin”
  • In his paper, “NASA Puffin Electric Tailsitter VTOL Concept”, Moore described “electric propulsion as offering dramatic new vehicle mission capabilities, but the only penalising characteristic” being “the current energy storage technology level”.

What are the challenges?

  • As the technology so far is a mix of unpiloted and piloted aircraft, the areas in focus include “crash prevention systems”.
  • There are also issues such as ensuring safety in case of powerplant or rotor failure.
  • Aircraft protection from cyberattacks is another area of focus.
  • Operating in difficult terrain, unsafe operating environments and also bad weather are cause of concern.

Indian Scenario

The government of India has asked the market players to look into the Indian market.

Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Taskforce for Urban Air Mobility has suggested regulatory authorities in India to look at:

  • formulating regulations for pilotless vehicles, airworthiness certifications, and the need for a pilot’s licence;
  • implementing efficient energy management systems, onboard sensors, collision detection systems and advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence;
  • having in place infrastructural support such as take-off and landing zones, parking lots, charging stations and what are called vertiports;
  • creating a robust air traffic management system that is integrated with other modes of transportation, and putting in place a database to ensure operational and mechanical safety.

Previous Year Questions (PYQs)

Q.1) What is the purpose of ‘evolved Laser Interferometer Space Antenna’ (eLISA) project? (2017)

  1. To detect neutrinos
  2. To detect gravitational waves
  3. To detect the effectiveness of missile defence system
  4. To study the effect of solar flares on our communication systems

Source: The Hindu

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