Why in news?
The Union Civil Aviation Minister, has said that the Government of India is exploring the possibility of inviting manufacturers of Electric Vertical Take-off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft to set up base in India.
What is eVTOL?
- As the acronym suggests, an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft is one that uses electric power to hover, take off, and land vertically.
- Most eVTOLs also use what is called as distributed electric propulsion technology which means integrating a complex propulsion system with the airframe.
- There are multiple motors for various functions; to increase efficiency; and to also ensure safety. This is technology that has grown on account of successes in electric propulsion based on progress in motor, battery, fuel cell and electronic controller technologies and also fuelled by the need for new vehicle technology that ensures urban air mobility (UAM).
- Thus, eVTOL is one of the newer technologies and developments in the aerospace industry.
- In short, eVTOLs have been likened to “a third wave in an aerial revolution”; the first being the advent of commercial flying, and the second, the age of helicopters.
Why are the developments in powering eVTOLs?
- An article in Avionics International says the roles eVTOLs adopt depends on battery technology and the limits of onboard electric power.
- Power is required during the key phases of flight such as take-off, landing and flight (especially in high wind conditions). There is also the important factor of weight.
- BAE Systems, for example, is looking at formats using a variety of Lithium batteries.
- Nano Diamond Batteries is looking at “Diamond Nuclear Voltaic (DNV) technology” using minute amounts of carbon-14 nuclear waste encased in layered industrial diamonds to create self-charging batteries.
What are the challenges?
- As the technology so far is a mix of unpiloted and piloted aircraft, the areas in focus include “crash prevention systems”. These use cameras, radar, GPS (global positioning system) and infrared scanners.
- There are also issues such as ensuring safety in case of power plant or rotor failure.
- Aircraft protection from cyber-attacks is another area of focus.
- A third area is in navigation and flight safety and the use of technology when operating in difficult terrain, unsafe operating environments and also bad weather.
What is the value of the market?
- The global market for eVTOLs was put at $8.5 million in 2021 and is to grow to $30.8 million by 2030. The demand will be on account of green energy and noise-free aircraft, cargo carrying concepts and the need for new modes of transport.
Scenario in India
The Government of India is exploring the possibility of inviting manufacturers of Electric Vertical Take-off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft to set up base in India. Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia has been reported as asking Beta Technologies, which has a partnership with the Blade group (it has a presence in India), to look at the Indian market.