As Uber plans to debut small, electric air taxis by 2023 and a host of aircraft manufacturers are working toward reduced-emission propulsion, Embry-Riddle – the world’s premier aviation and aerospace institution – has launched what is believed to be a first-of-its-kind graduate engineering course in hybrid aircraft propulsion and urban air mobility aircraft.
The course, scheduled to debut in spring 2019, will introduce Embry-Riddle engineers to the fundamentals of electrified propulsion, battery technology, optimal design of aircraft propulsive battery packs considering weight, cooling, safety and other attributes, and more. The goal, said Aerospace Engineering Professor Richard “Pat” Anderson, director of Embry-Riddle’s Eagle Flight Research Center, is to set the stage for aircraft that are quieter, produce less pollution and reduce urban congestion.
“A growing number of companies have reported plans to develop urban air mobility air taxis and electrically driven commuter airliners,” Anderson noted. “It’s an exciting time to be a student in the aerospace sector. Within the next 5 to 10 years, aircraft will no longer look like they have for the past 115 years. Strong business interest in urban air mobility and an evolving regulatory environment is rapidly bringing aircraft design into the future.”
Dr. Maj Mirmirani, dean of the College of Engineering on the university’s Daytona Beach Campus said: “Embry-Riddle students continue to engineer the future of human mobility. This new course will better prepare Embry-Riddle graduates to make meaningful contributions across the emerging fields of hybrid-electric aircraft propulsion systems, vertical take-off and landing aircraft and personal air vehicles for urban transportation.”
Embry-Riddle has a long history of pioneering research in alternative aircraft propulsion starting with its entry in the NASA Green Flight Challenge in 2011 – the EcoEagle, a manned parallel hybrid airplane – and the testing of unleaded fuel replacements for piston driven general aviation airplanes.
Today, Embry Riddle has the largest cluster of activity in new propulsion strategies linking academia, industry and government laboratories. The university leads a consortium of industry in innovative hybrid airplane research, and it has several resident companies working in this area, including Boeing, Heurobotics, Flight Level Engineering and VerdeGo Aero, setting the stage for a new push to provide engineering talent for the next generation of air transportation.