The past five years have seen interest in the urban air mobility (UAM) market boom, with a keen focus on eVTOL (electric vertical take off and landing) configurations on the part of established aerospace industry players, ambitious start-ups and policy makers alike, who are drawn to them due to their expected environmentally friendly characteristics. This nascent industry has the potential to revolutionise the way people travel for work and leisure, along with transforming existing infrastructure in our major towns and cities.
Aircraft electrification is emerging at the level of small aircraft with innovative propulsion concepts. Such all-electric aircraft must ensure safe operation even under adverse winter weather conditions which makes equipping them with an ice protection system mandatory. Furthermore, the limitations of state-of-the-art and near-future energy storage technologies call for reliable low-power solutions to increase the overall energy efficiency of the aircraft. These technology solutions will help to reduce weather- induced operational limitations and to increase range and duration of the trips, thus enabling higher usability and utilization of the aircraft.
SELECT aims to develop and test surface technologies with advanced functions for ice protection and drag reduction for eVTOLs to maintain flight safety in a wider range of icing conditions, to increase energy efficiency and performance, and to reduce noise emission of all-electric air taxis.
The main subsystems that are targeted in SELECT are:
- the passive Ice Protection System (IPS) to ensure reliable performance at low power demand, and
- to reduce aerodynamic losses and noise emissions, maintaining high performance.
The functional surface technologies will be developed targeted to the needs of the upcoming eVTOL applications by enhancing simulation and design capabilities with validated models, developing materials tailored for low-power solutions, and enhancing testing capabilities in view of the upcoming testing demand and certification needs.