JAXA’s Electric Aircraft Technology for Harmonized Ecological Revolution (FEATHER) electric propulsion system – a previous electrification project – underwent its first flight test in February 2015 in Otone Airstrip in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan while installed on a glider (Image source: JAXA).

JAXA establishes new aircraft electrification consortium

Japan’s industrial heavy-hitters join to improve electric propulsion and eliminate aerospace emissions
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched the Electrification Challenge for Aircraft (ECLAIR) consortium in collaboration with IHI Corporation; Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd.; Subaru Corporation, Hitachi, Ltd.; Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Aero Engines, Ltd.; Mitsubishi Electric Corporation; and the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).

Established on July 1, the ECLAIR consortium will focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other negative environmental impacts of the aerospace industry by developing innovative electric technologies. The consortium will operate as an aerospace industry incubator for Japan and foster cross-industry collaboration to spur growth in the country’s aerospace sector.

While hybrid and all-electric propulsion systems in automotive vehicles are becoming commonplace, battery, inverter, and electric motors performance only recently improved to the point of incorporation in aircraft.
The Next-Generation Astronautical Innovation Hub Center of the JAXA Astronautical Technology Directorate will lead the ECLAIR consortium, which will serve as an open platform where government, academia, and industry collaborate on cutting-edge electric motorization and aerospace technology innovation.

The consortium’s ultimate goal is development of emission-free aircraft or extremely low emission, purely electrical aircraft. The first steps include creating a shared vision of future electric aircraft on which to develop and improving current relevant Japanese electrical and aerospace technology.

An open forum is scheduled for December 2018 to publicize the initiatives taken by the consortium.

To ensure that the innovations that come out of the ECLAIR consortium are applied, the group will work in close cooperation with METI, which supervises Japan's aerospace industry policies. METI plans to use the consortium to raise the competitiveness of Japanese businesses which have great growth potential concerning electric motorization.


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William Kucinski is content editor at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group in Warrendale, Pa. Previously, he worked as a writer at the NASA Safety Center in Cleveland, Ohio and was responsible for writing the agency’s System Failure Case Studies. His interests include literally anything that has to do with space, past and present military aircraft, and propulsion technology.

Contact him regarding any article or collaboration ideas by e-mail at william.kucinski@sae.org.
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