Industry leaders gathering from around the world for the Singapore Air Show in 2042 are likely to arrive on a hydrogen liner and then complete the final phase of their journey in the usual eVTOL air taxi. This was the final conclusion of a webinar held in late January to discuss the position of the Asia-Pacific region as a support for new aerospace technologies, organized by the organizer of the Experia exhibition.
The forecast was made by Airbus Asia-Pacific President Anand Stanley, who confirmed that the European airline is aiming to put the hydrogen aircraft into commercial operation in 2035, after the program is expected to launch in 2025. He also made an application for the four-seater CityAirbus aircraft NextGen eVTOL aircraft, launched last year and scheduled for commissioning in 2025.
However, Airbus will certainly not enjoy clear mileage in the highly hyped and very crowded eVTOL sector. The German subsidiary Volocopter and Embraer Eve Urban Air Mobility also participated in this Asia-Pacific: the center of tomorrow’s technology webinar, and both confirmed that they view Singapore and many other cities across the region as the first participants in a new approach to local public transport that they say will unload roads and reduce carbon emissions.
It would seem that the inevitable imperative of the air transport industry to achieve pure carbon neutrality by 2050 will be to take a multilateral approach that will not be sustained and will not break only on electric traffic. GE Aviation Engineering General Manager Vikram Reddy pointed to further potential for improving the energy efficiency of the turbofan machine. He explained that the engine manufacturer is speeding up work on open fan designs to get more efficient movement using lightweight materials such as composite blades and improved gearboxes and transmissions from its partners Avio and Safran.
“As we move into the core of a heated engine, we need to invent more new materials to get even more thermal efficiency,” Reddy explained. “There is also much to be achieved with the use of sustainable aviation fuel [the GE-Safran partnership] Last year, CFM International flew for the first time on a plane with a 100 percent mixture of SAF.
Stanley endorsed an approach to “greening” aviation in several ways. Although Airbus considers the electric motor with a battery suitable for its small, short-range CityAirbus eVTOL, it is now convinced that hydrogen is the only option for true decarbonization that can operate on a larger scale and for long flights. Solar energy is also part of the mix, and the company plans to use this energy source for its Zephyr high-altitude aircraft designed for long-term observation missions. He told the webinar audience that if their trip to Singapore in 2042 is longer than the 2500 nm range expected for its hydrogen airliner, they will be able to arrive on a long-haul wide-body A350 with SAF or synthetic fuel.
“For Volocopter, Singapore is a beacon market in Southeast Asia and the wider Asia-Pacific region,” said Hong Lung Chu, head of Singapore’s business and business development department at Germany.
In October 2019, Volocopter publicly demonstrated its prototype VC200 eVTOL in Singapore’s Marina Bay area. During this event and at the Singapore Air Show in February 2020, he conducted a market study to measure consumers ’appetite for urban air mobility. “It found that 72 percent of the public expressed interest [in using eVTOL aircraft], and especially among young people and people with higher incomes, ”he said. “We believe it will take 20-30 years to achieve step-by-step change [in air transport] but we need to consider a change in the working environment for smaller aircraft at lower altitudes [below 3,000 feet]and digitization will be a key part of that. ”
Eve CEO Andre Stein said the new technology would provide a much more integrated approach to transport, which he called the “Internet of Mobility”. The company, which is in the process of placing shares on Wall Street, continues to work on a four-passenger aircraft eVTOL. “Travel needs to be much more integrated so you can drive easily from Jurong [a Singapore neighborhood] to central London, in a sustainable and accessible way we have never seen before, ”he said, explaining that Eve’s plans include creating a complete ecosystem that includes unmanned aerial vehicle control technology to ensure the new aircraft can operate safely.
Meanwhile, significant elements of new aircraft are being grown in Singapore. Jeffrey Lam, president of ST Engineering for Commercial Aerospace Services, said at the webinar that the group is stepping up its involvement in drones for missions such as monitoring and delivering ships standing ashore. The group is also working to reduce carbon emissions through measures such as installing solar panels on all of its hangars and other buildings to cover the country’s equatorial sunlight.
The manufacturer of aerospace is working on new lighter, stronger and more optimized in terms of acoustics gondolas for aircraft. Meanwhile, working as a provider of maintenance, repair and overhaul, he seeks to rework aviation assets through programs such as converting A320 narrow-body airliners from passenger to cargo in partnership with Airbus.
“Singapore is a real melting pot for innovation,” Lam said. “We have the necessary resources for research and development, finance, talent and infrastructure, as well as established aerospace partnerships in one place and strong government support and universities. So there are compelling arguments for companies looking to make a breakthrough to come and work here. ”