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Into the DEAP

  • Magazine Feature Article
  • 14AERD03_01
Published March 05, 2014 by SAE International in United States
  • English

The Distributed Electrical Aerospace Propulsion project looks toward a future optimized integrated propulsion system that will allow cleaner, quieter, and more efficient performance to be incorporated into a radically innovative airframe that will feature enclosed electrically powered fans.

Tucked away in the static aircraft park at last year's Paris Air Show, totally dwarfed by a massive Airbus A380, was a small two-seat demonstrator aircraft, the E-Fan. Looking at first glance like many light-weight modern composite aircraft, the E-Fan is actually a much more significant creation for it represents the first fully electric general aviation training aircraft. The prime driving force for such technology demonstrators is the need to continue to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

While today's air transport sector is responsible for “a mere” 2% of man-made CO2 emissions worldwide, the political pressure globally for continued improvements in environmental standards will just keep on growing. Conventional aero engines and airframes, with more geared turbofans, advanced turbofans, and possibly open rotor fans, will most likely see an evolutionary development path continue in the short term, but to achieve a further 70% cut in CO2, a 90% cut in NOx, and 75% reduction in external noise, compared to standards in 2000, more radical innovation will be needed.