Aerospace thought leaders are highlighting the need to preserve the environment and follow regulations, while boosting the performance of aircraft engines. In other words, aircraft engines need to output more power while consuming less fuel, producing less noise and releasing fewer emissions.
To achieve this goal, the aerospace industry is enhancing the efficiency of combustion engines, while also exploring electric and hybrid propulsion systems.
Aircraft manufacturers have benefited greatly due to advancements in material science. Graphene and carbon nanotubes are some of the newest materials used in aerospace technology to improve the efficiency of airplane wings. Graphene and carbon nanotubes make aircrafts more lightweight and fuel efficient. MIT and NASA have created a “morphing” wing in their manufacturing department to enhance the manufacturing process and more efficient. Specialized robots are used to assemble lightweight subunits in this “morphing” wing to speed up the manufacturing process.
Airbus recently revealed three concepts for the world’s first zero-emission hydrogen commercial aircraft, which could enter service by 2035. These concepts each represent a different approach to achieving zero-emission flight by exploring various technology pathways and aerodynamic configurations in order to support their ambition of pioneering the decarbonization of the entire aviation industry. All of the concepts presented by Airbus rely on hydrogen as a primary power source – an option which they believe holds exceptional promise as a clean aviation fuel and is likely to be a solution for aerospace - and many other industries - to meet their climate-neutral targets.
Implementing autonomous technologies has been a growing trend across several industries, and the aerospace industry is no exception. Much of this has been focused on increasing autonomous flights, with the end goal being to launch fully human-free flights. While this may still be several years away, investments and innovation will consistently be geared toward this in the coming years. We might see planes being cut down to just one pilot and subsequently becoming autonomously operated in the coming years. This has already occurred with drones, although this technology will obviously need to be scaled-up before it’s ready for passenger planes and longer journeys.
Innovative technologies and manufacturing processes are being developed on a seemingly constant basis, and small to medium-sized manufacturers are reaping the benefits as aerospace companies look for niche suppliers to help expand their supply chain.
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