Fully Electric Regional Airliner Feasibility and Design Study 2018-01-1926
The paper presents a design study for a fully electric regional airliner with a high wing, envisaged to enter service in 2035. The work reported includes the conceptual, preliminary and some detailed design of a 70 passenger twin propeller-driven vehicle, with a 46 passenger short take-off and landing capability also investigated. The design mission is to carry 70 passengers 300 nm with a take-off mass of 27 tonnes and at a cruise Mach number of 0.65.
The power and propulsion system is reported in some detail. A step change in today’s battery technology is envisioned to be required to make such a pure-electric regional airliner feasible. Lithium-Air is a candidate cell chemistry and system sizing aspires to achieve a 900 Wh / kg battery energy density. Operational aspects have been studied and reported.
Thermal management design is progressed, in particular considering the electrical power systems requirements and the two 4 MW motors driving the two propellers.
Flight path performance is studied in detail and reference made to ACARE Flight Path 2050 targets, including for noise.
In terms of aircraft structures, particular attention is paid to the wing design, considering the wing no longer needs to serve as a kerosene storage vessel. Structural design and systems integration is investigated, including using a detailed CAD model implemented in CATIA software.
Certification in the context of Part 25 is given full consideration, with modifications and means of compliance to enable a pure-electric airliner proposed. This is approached by considering in some respects the battery and electrical power distribution system to be equivalent to the kerosene aircraft’s fuel system, while for the electric motor, the engine regulations are used in part as being analogous.
Lessons learned and key challenges ahead to enable a fully electric airliner are reported.
Craig Peter Lawson, Howard Smith PhD
Aerospace Systems and Technology Conference