Boeing’s identity as a top innovator continuously challenges the aerospace industry. However, how far will the company’s efforts stretch aviation efforts in the coming years?
The company’s intellectual property (IP) claims exceed 7,000 patents worldwide, ranging from information technology to aircraft assembly among both military and civilian markets. Yet, do they believe in the possibility of taking a flight powered by electricity?
Hybrid planes could take flight
With inspiration from NASA, Boeing conceived a hybrid airplane concept. The subsonic ultragreen aircraft research (SUGAR) Volt concept combines electricity with a fuel boost when necessary, such as during takeoff. With the ultimate goal of minimizing emissions, the concept could result in a 70% fuel decrease over current flights.
Along with battery power similar to that used in hybrid vehicles, the SUGAR Volt concept would require aircraft to recharge at airports. The longer wings designed to lessen liftoff would fold, in order to access gates at existing airports. Though research is well underway, projections estimate concept implementation around 2030-2050.
Questions about implementing the SUGAR Volt concept
It may be too soon to tell how the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will license and regulate hybrid commercial aircraft. Additionally, potential questions remain:
- What are the potential safety concerns?
- How much power is necessary to stay airborne?
- Will pilots require specific training?
As with all aviation matters, there is extreme complexity involved with the research and development dedicated to adding another aircraft to commercial fleets. In addition to conceptualizing an ecofriendly airliner, protecting the intellectual property behind the technology of the future is imperative throughout the process of bringing this idea to fruition.