GAMA Releases Standard for Hybrid, Electric Propulsion

 - February 6, 2017, 10:34 AM

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) has issued the first global standard for measuring hybrid and electric propulsion in general aviation aircraft. GAMA’s Electric Propulsion Innovation Committee (Epic) on February 3 released the publication detailing a common set of global measurements for hybrid and electric aircraft performance, including reserves.

We don’t typically standardize [technologies] until we feel it’s taking hold,” said GAMA vice president of global innovation and policy Greg Bowles. “There’s a lot of activity in hybrid and electric. This industry is really starting to turn up.”

GAMA formed Epic a year ago, and membership has already swelled to 40 members. “In a year, we went from zero to 40, so there’s a huge contingent of folks that are very interested in the space.”

With a number of projects currently in development, Epic wanted to ensure manufacturers took a similar approach to their measurement, and their claims of capabilities. Similar to the NBAA IFR reserves, the standard looks at different aspects of flights to develop the measurement with a safe buffer of reserves.

Epic outlines three typical scenarios of flight: a trip between two points, a training flight and a flight that involves takeoff, flying in a pattern and returning. For those scenarios, the standard calls for a 30-minute reserve in energy.

The committee also included a new vertical flight pattern for rotorcraft and/or the new generation of aircraft that will have vertical capabilities. The reserves in that case, however, are more operationally, rather than time, based.

The standard was developed based on substantial discussions among the Epic members, Bowles noted, adding that FAA and European Aviation Safety Agency regulators were also present during some of those discussions, but are not involved in the standard itself. The new standard is the first version, he said, adding it might evolve over time.

Bowles, who returned from the More Electric Aircraft (MEA) 2017 conference in Bordeaux, France, last week, noted that the projects discussed there underscored that hybrid and electric will be a wave of the future. In the past, MEA had focused on electrical projects throughout the aircraft, he said. But now the discussions have turned to propulsion.