Despite years of developments on the industry side, civil aviation regulatory authorities have yet to actually certify one of these electric aircraft. As the aviation industry shifts towards sustainability, more manufacturers are developing electric engines to move away from jet fuel.
Aircraft manufacturers are at the mercy of regulators when it comes to certification, and some say it’s the only thing that prevents them from going into service. At the Panel of the Vertical Flight Society’s Electric Aircraft Symposium on July 21, industry and regulatory experts explained what challenges still exist in the certification of electric aircraft.
- Peryea cautioned that aircraft manufacturers need to establish a certification basis before designing their aircraft to avoid future problems.
- “From a design perspective, you have to actually establish your certification bases before you start designing,” Peryea said.
- “Unless you really fully understand, how you’re going to certify the aircraft into what rules, it is hard to layout an aircraft architecture from a systems perspective until you could have a full understanding.”
Some manufacturers, such as Jaunt, plan to certify aircraft based on existing rules such as Part 29 and 135, but certifying electric engines requires special conditions.
FAA on electric Aircraft Certification
- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is working on creating special conditions for electric engines to provide certification guides for electric engine manufacturers, said Gary Horan, a specialist in FAA’s aerospace control systems. Said in the panel.
- According to Horan, FAA has worked with one company specifically to develop this special condition, magniX.
- “We work at FAA … to get the special conditions issued for the first project to certify electric engines,” Horan said.
- “This special requirement is written around a particular company and its products. To be honest, I don’t know if they will cross the finish line first, but the horses and that we That’s what I did. ”
- Horan said the special condition is based on an American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard.
- He said the terminology is important to consider when talking about certification because the. FAA is certifying an electric motor, not electric propulsion.
- “This special condition was developed based on an ASTM standard. That we put together over a span of a year, two years, probably longer than that… And it was for what was called at the time electric propulsion, well that terminology is going away,” Horan said.
- “It is an electric engine that we’re talking about and that makes a huge difference for the FAA, and for [European Union Aviation Safety Agency] EASA by the way, because that’s the only thing we can certify is an engine.
- We can’t certify an electric propulsion unit because that’s the way the rules are written.”
FAA wants to certify engine
One of the changes FAA has made is that anyone who wants to certify an engine must provide information about which aircraft the engine is on, Holan said.
- It is based on the authorities’ efforts to raise safety standards.
- “We are changing one aspect of what we need in relation to engines and safety that were not previously needed,” Horan said.
- If you want to get a type certificate for an engine, you need to do a safety assessment of that engine and you need to predict what the failure rate will be.
- You now need to know where it will be installed.
- There is a need to know the aircraft because it needs to take into account the objectives that the aircraft needs to stay safe.
- So, at least at the engine level, we have expanded the scope of safety assessments, but at the aircraft level. I think it will extend.
Releasing this special condition will allow manufacturers to have guidelines to follow for engine certification. Lowell Foster, director of global innovation and engineering at the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), said without this certification basis, manufacturers are still left with more questions than answers while trying to design a vehicle.
Fosters on Electric Aircraft Certification
- “The FAA has been a lot more challenging in terms of getting cert basis out and getting agreement with what the means of compliance are, which leaves these questions lingering while you’re trying to design a vehicle,” Foster said.
- However, there are many other areas where manufacturers are not yet convinced of certification standards.
- According to Foster, one example is the FAA’s flight standard. This applies powerlift requirements to electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.
- “The big problem we’ve just learned is that FAA’s flight standards apply power drift to fixed-wing VTOL aircraft,” Foster said.
- “I still don’t know what that means, but we need to follow a more substantive exemption route. And it’s even more important to use simulators and flight training equipment. As well as take advantage of the new generation of sims. Will be.
- ”Another challenge for FAA is that each aircraft has a different design architecture.
“It’s absolutely amazing how many different variations there are,” Horan said.
“There are very few applicants that have come to us, that have the same thing that somebody else has. It’s like everybody’s got a slightly different spin on it.” While electric aircraft have made strides in recent years, Horan said the biggest issue they still face is power supply.
“I think the largest issue that they’re all faced with is the power resource, meaning. Where are you going to get the energy, how you’re going to manage that,” Horan said.
“Total battery operation is extremely appealing because it seems like it’s the quickest way to get there. But the battery technology has still got a ways to go to make it a cost. And economic benefit and impact on a range. So I see that as being really the biggest issue.”
Foster said he was concerned about issues that are not currently central.
“My concern is also in authentication, but not so much obvious. We look at some of the new technologies. And think it’s very easy to say that these are authentication issues, so we’re talking about them.
I’ve been looking at the certification program for a long time, but in the end, a little thing I didn’t see bites you, “says Foster.
Information Credits to aviation today and pilotin.org
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