Anyone who thinks that electric aircraft are just for dreamers and tinkerers might think twice after seeing the lineup of speakers at EAA’s Electric Aircraft World Symposium, held on Friday and Saturday during AirVenture. The event, sponsored by GE Aviation, brought in experts from the U.S. Air Force, NASA Langley, Sikorsky Aircraft, Argonne National Labs, the FAA, and more. Mark Maybury, chief scientist for the USAF, told AVweb the military is interested in creating fully electric aircraft, both manned and unmanned. “This is important not only from an energy-management perspective but also for acoustic properties, to create a much quieter vehicle — as much as 15 to 20 decibels quieter than current vehicles,” he said. “Acoustic stealth offers a military advantage.” Maybury said the military is also interested in electric technology as a means to help reduce complexity, improve thermal management, reduce carbon emissions, and conserve fuel. He sent a copy of his very interesting PowerPoint presentation to AVweb; click here to download it (PDF).
The Symposium, held at EAA’s Museum, attracted about 200 or so attendees, who participated in lively Q & A’s with each of the speakers and crowded around them to pursue further conversations during the breaks. EAA had also planned to host an Electric Aircraft Prize during AirVenture, with a $60,000 prize, but postponed it till next year. Too many of the prospective entrants hadn’t been flying long enough to meet the 40-hour minimum flight test requirement in time to appear at the show. At the Symposium on Friday, AVweb’s Mary Grady spoke with Don Hillebrand, of Argonne National Labs, about his work and why he thinks it’s important to pursue research into new energy technologies; click here for that podcast.