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E – 1903 Electrification of Aircraft

Intended Audience: Mechanical, Airport, Transportation, and Electrical Engineers
Credits: 2 PDH Units


In this online engineering PDH course, an overview of the current state and potential future development of aviation electrification is provided. Early stages of aircraft electrification are already underway. Small-scale electric and hybrid aircraft are under development, with small e-aircraft already certified to fly and with test flights underway for retrofits of existing aircraft. Electric aircraft are expected to increase operational efficiency and reduce emissions and noise. Because of the limited battery capacity of current technology, regional markets, which are defined as markets in which trips are less than 500 km (~310 miles), are expected to lead growth for electric hybrid planes. To illustrate the emerging current and future challenges of e-aircraft, a case study is considered of the potential use of small electric aircraft for short flights between small regional airports and a hub airport.

This course is intended for mechanical, airport, transportation, and electrical engineers concerned with aircraft and airport design.

This course is based on the National Renewable Energy Laboratory Technical Report, “Electrification of Aircraft: Challenges, Barriers, and Potential Impacts,” NREL/TP-6A20-80220, by Amy Schwab, Anna Thomas, Jesse Bennett, Emma Robertson, and Scott Cary, October 2021.

Learning Objectives

At the successful conclusion of this course, you’ll be able to identify and discuss:

  • Understanding the advantages of electric aircraft in reducing noise and emissions
  • Recognizing the importance of application to currently underserved markets
  • Determining operational requirements about charging infrastructure, grid integration, and regulatory requirements
  • Being familiar with the range of e-aircraft available, including small-scale and hybrid technologies

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