Much of the time, changes in aerospace can take awhile. In fact, from laboratory to actual production can take two decades. There are issues with aerospace currently that needs solving. There are possible fixes on the horizon though. Let’s take a look at some of the difficulties they are facing today.
Concerns About the Environment
As we head deeper into the 21st century, we are becoming more aware of the dangers that we have personally created that our facing our planet. Everyone needs to do a better job at protecting our earth. Aerospace is leaving a carbon footprint behind that they hope to lessen in the near future.
Whether climate change is real or not, there is no disputing that we are hurting our environment, and it will soon come back to bite us. One possible, but currently farfetched, solution to pollution created by airplanes, jets and other aerospace inventions involves using electric propulsion.
Electric propulsion can be created by using solar panels on the craft. It uses magnetism and electricity to push a craft through the sky and space. Space shuttles can be energized by these solar panels that convert over to an electrically propelled system. This type of system will use ten times less propellant than a chemical propulsion system.
Cars are already being made that incorporate batteries that need to be recharged every so often instead of having to use fuel. It is time to use something similar by experimenting with aircrafts. Plus, stored power in batteries is much safer than gas, diesel, or jet fuel when there is an accident.
Better fuel efficiency goes hand in hand with creating a healthier environment. Part of this can be completed just through a lower-drag design on the actual aircrafts. In addition, lessening the weight of the craft by using lighter material would also conserve fuel.
But the real key is to develop more efficient engines. Since the very first jets, efficiency has improved by about one percent every year. However, this is not happening at a quick enough rate for the world around us. For example, the Airbus in 2016 has a 15 percent lower fuel burn than an Airbus that was produced in 1988. It took nearly 30 years to achieve the decrease. Gaining 15 percent of fuel efficiency every three decades is not really going to impress anyone. Especially when Europe officials have stated that they want to reduce carbon emissions by 75 percent by the year 2050.
Fossil fuels are being phased out in every industry. Aviation and aerospace could be the last ones using fossil fuel as their only fuel source. There are synthetic kerosenes that are already currently being used and tried out, and they are predicted to extend the life of liquid fuels by decades. But that is just putting off the inevitable, so battery energy should be explored.
Making It Quicker
It may seem surprising, but air travel is not any faster than it was at the beginning of the jet age. In fact, it is slightly slower. Wouldn’t you believe after decades have gone by, higher speeds which results in quicker travel would be present in all aircraft?
Many in the industry are making a push for the return of supersonic transport. The annoying sonic boom can be quite the detriment to this type of travel though. Hypersonic travel is viewed as a possibility by some as well.
NASA originally were creating a supersonic craft that could go Mach 2.4 in 1999. The 300 seat aircraft was in the planning stages when industry experts decided that airline passengers would not pay more to travel at a faster rate.
There is a current ban on supersonic flight over land, and that would have to be lifted before more experimenting and research could be conducted. There is hope that the FAA and International Civil Aviation Organization can be convinced in the next few years to remove the supersonic ban.
While we all patiently wait for supersonic technology, a hypersonic aircraft will emerge once the military has improved the technology. In fact, with the military known to be secretive, maybe they already have. A hypersonic aircraft could travel at speeds of 6,000 miles per hour. The longest commercial flight in the United States is Miami to Seattle at 2,724 miles or about six hours and 40 minutes in average flight time. Hypersonic speeds would take only between 30 and 40 minutes.
A Key Figure Might Be Able to Help with These Problems
Louis Chenevert was an aerospace genius when he was president and CEO of United Technologies Corporation (UTC). UTC, a company that was involved in many things including aerospace, aircrafts, and engines, had just put the reins to the future in Chenevert’s hands. He felt that investing in new technologies would pay off down the road. It actually paid off quicker than they thought when UTC stock had gone from about $37 a share in 2008 when he was first hired to $117 a share in 2014 when he abruptly retired. Chenevert’s six years of running UTC turned the company around.
Chenevert loves experimenting with new technologies. He is currently installing and creating new ways to use technology on yachts, one of his most beloved hobbies. Has the time come for some aerospace company to offer him a deal that he cannot turn down in hopes of improving these issues? He has demonstrated that he has the initiative to make the tough decisions when operating a multi-billion dollar company. Maybe some company can pull him out of semi-retirement.
Chenevert was ready to lead UTC to new heights back in 2008. Can he do the same thing just ten years later in 2018? He had risen through the ranks over the years from General Motors to Pratt & Whitney and to UTC. A new challenge could be just around the corner for him.
Read our last article on Louis Chenevert here!