Regulators need to understand realities, complexities of achieving ecoAviation goals

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By Scott Hamilton

Dec. 5, 2022, © Leeham News: Battery power. Hybrid-battery. Hydrogen. Hydrogen-hybrid. Sustainable Aviation Fuel.

Boeing’s 777 ecoDemonstrator. Boeing launched the ecoD program 10 years ago. Credit: Boeing.

Whatever the path chosen by the hundreds of companies seeking greener commercial aviation, government regulations and tax breaks are going to be a part of the solutions.

The airline industry has a goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. There are milestone targets between now and then. But will governments fully understand what’s technologically achievable in considering regulations or tax breaks? Will they fully understand which options are the best environmental solution?

Boeing developed an analytical tool called Cascade to help governments and regulators understand these issues. Importantly, Cascade takes into account the total life cycle factors for environmentally-friendly options.

The model analyzes carbon emissions for airplane fleet renewal, renewable energy sources such as sustainable fuel, hydrogen, electric propulsion, operational efficiency improvements, and advanced technologies. At the moment, Cascade remains in Beta testing internally. LNA has not had the opportunity to play with it.

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“We’ve got to be honest about where we are on the life cycle emissions,” says Chris Raymond, the chief sustainability officer for The Boeing Co. “We’ve got to have a way to take that into account. We were just trying to start to illustrate to people that the energy generation upstream of whatever’s going to power the airplane is all part of the calculus that we have to think about. That’s really why we invented Cascade.”

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“The music will stop” because aviation will miss target “green” deadlines: Boeing’s Calhoun

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By Scott Hamilton

David Calhoun. Source: Boeing.

Oct. 24, 2022, © Leeham News: Boeing CEO David Calhoun believes that the plethora of concepts for shifting to “green” aviation may be confusing policymakers.

And, he says, the pace outlined by the commercial aviation industry may contribute to the confusion.

Calhoun also said that Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), while the most promising near-term technology to reduce aviation emissions, isn’t an easy solution, nor is it a complete solution.

Calhoun made his remarks last month at the US Chamber of Commerce Aerospace Summit in Washington (DC).

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Voltaero’s Cassio hybrid plane is “Mild”

The somewhat different hybrid-electric aircraft

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By Scott Hamilton and Bjorn Fehrm

Oct. 10, 2022, © Leeham News: A French company, Voltaero, is taking a different approach to the plethora of concepts to produce a “green” aerial vehicle.

The Cassio family of aircraft uses a Mild Hybrid to avoid the pitfall of most hybrids, the need for a large battery. Batteries of today and tomorrow are too heavy to serve as the main power source for an aircraft unless it’s a flight around the airport like for trainers.

Voltaero designed a clever hybrid scheme that allows electric flight where it matters and leaves a thermal engine to do the rest. The concept, called a “Mild Hybrid,” keeps the advantages of the electric flight mode without the disadvantages of short-range or an expensive operation.


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UPDATED: All-electric Eviation Alice takes 1st flight

By Bryan Corliss

Sept. 27, 2022 © Leeham News: The battery-powered Eviation Alice has flown for the first time.

The nine-seat aircraft, powered by twin electric propeller motors assembled by Eviation’s sister company, magniX, rotated up and took off into a sky hazy from forest fires shortly after sunrise in the Pacific Time Zone, a little after 7 a.m.

After takeoff the plane banked to the right, circled for eight minutes around Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake, then landed safely. The Alice reached an altitude of 3,500 feet.

The dawn flight was an important milestone for Eviation, magniX, and for battery-powered aircraft in general. The Alice appears to be the largest electric passenger aircraft to fly so far, larger than the two-seater Pipistrel Velis, which had its first test flight with passengers in Iceland last month. Tecnam and Rolls Royce teamed up to fly a four-seater P2010 with a hybrid electric engine in February.


  • EIS is still years away, CEO says
  • Eviation and magniX need batteries to get better
  • Alice will evolve in interim

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Jump in R&D spending at Boeing Commerical Airplanes points to renewed studies for new airplane

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By Scott Hamilton

Return of the NMA? Photo credit: Leeham News.

Aug. 1, 2022, © Leeham News: Buried in Boeing’s second quarter results released last week was a sharp jump in research and development spending.

It wasn’t just a small increase at Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA). Boeing spent more on research and development in the quarter and the half year. Expenses hit $1.33bn for the half-year compared with $996m a year earlier. For the quarter, expenses rose $996m vs $497m. R&D for Commercial Airplanes rose to $693m for the half and $372m for the quarter, compared with $524m and $255m, increases of 32% and 46%, respectively.

Spending is still short of the peak in 2019. But the reduced spending post-grounding of the 737 MAX and the COVID-19 pandemic was reversed in the first six months of this year.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Sustainable Air Transport. Part 21. Fuel Cell system design

By Bjorn Fehrm

May 27, 2022, ©. Leeham News: Last week, we looked at the power levels we need in a fuel cell and electric motor system. We listed the required powers and durations for takeoff, climb, and maximum continuous power levels for a 70-seater turboprop.

Now we go deeper into the fuel cell system design, looking at system powers and thermals.

Figure 1. The principal parts of a fuel cell propulsion system. Source: NASA.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Sustainable Air Transport. Part 15. Hydrogen propulsion system choices.

By Bjorn Fehrm

April 15, 2022, ©. Leeham News: Last week, we examined different airliner types’ power requirements and the importance of their size classes in the market.

Now we look at what propulsion system alternatives are available when using hydrogen as the energy source and their principal advantages and disadvantages.


Figure 1. CO2 emission by airliner segments. Source: EU Hydrogen-powered aviation report.

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Pontifications: The soup du jour

March 14, 2022, © Leeham News: You might call it the soup du jour.

By Scott Hamilton

EcoAviation is all over the place at aviation conferences these days. It was a key topic at last October’s Annual General Meeting of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Likewise at last month’s annual conference of the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance (PNAA). EcoAviation also was an element of the Speed News conference in Los Angeles early this month and at another event the following week. Investor Day events now routinely include ecoAviation discussion.

This is all well and good, but at last, some key members of the industry are putting caution and realism to the pie-in-the-sky stuff that is sucking up investment like the Dot Com era a few decades ago. Only a few ideas and technologies will be successful.

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Airbus readies hydrogen-powered demo flights

Update, Feb. 21: Airbus announced today a press conference tomorrow in Toulouse.

By Scott Hamilton

One concept of where hydrogen tanks could be located.

Feb. 8, 2022, (c) Leeham News: Airbus plans to fly a hydrogen-fueled ZEROe demonstrator soon, with an announcement coming as early as this month.

Airbus’ drive to reduce emissions appears prioritized toward developing an H2-fueled airplane. While all it’s A-Series aircraft will be 100% compatible with Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) by 2030—they’re 50% compatible today—hydrogen is at the forefront of its research and development. Officials want to have an H2-powered airplane ready for service by 2035. This aircraft will almost certainly be a turboprop.

Amanda Simpson, vice president for research and technology of Airbus, said the company must have a demonstration project proving the feasibility of an H2-fueled airplane before full development can proceed. She told the audience at the annual conference of the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance yesterday that an announcement could come within two weeks. In sideline remarks, she declined to say what type of aircraft will be used for the demo project.

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“Don’t delude the public” on environmental advances in aviation

 By Scott Hamilton

Jan. 26, 2022, © Leeham News: The International Air Transport Assn’s Annual General Meeting in Boston last October focused on industry progress and goals toward a greener environment.

Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airline. Photo Credit: ET Travel World News.

In a fanfare series of panels and announcements, IATA set a goal of industrial carbon neutrality by 2050. But in reality, this was a step backwards from a goal described in 2011 by Jim Albaugh, then-president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Albaugh made his remarks in a speech before the Royal Aeronautical Society.

At the IATA AGM, Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airline, cautioned the industry: “Don’t make promises you can’t keep.”

LNA spoke with Clark this month, who expanded on his IATA appearance.

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