NBAA Convention News

Parker Sees New Electric Aircraft as Technology Hotbed

 - October 19, 2022, 1:52 PM
Parker Aerospace is developing electro-mechanical actuators for Eviation's all-electric Alice aircraft. (Photo: Eviation)

The advanced air mobility (AAM) sector’s drive to exploit new technologies such as electric power and simplified vehicle operations presents huge challenges. At the same time, it offers great opportunities to companies like Parker Aerospace to let their decades-long experience in complex aviation programs bear fruit. Last month, the U.S.-based group completed the acquisition of aerospace group Meggitt, significantly expanding its portfolio with products that it believes will make it a valuable partner for developers of electric aircraft.

One of the main challenges Parker (Booth 4278) wants to resolve is thermal management, which means dealing with the heat from electric batteries and motors to avoid potentially dangerous thermal runaways. Through its Parker Lord division, the company has been doing this for some time with existing civil and military aircraft. Now, it is looking to reduce the weight and size of the systems it provides to ensure they will be compatible with the scaled-down architectures.

One of its first declared partners in the AAM space is Eviation, which last month made its first flight with its Alice nine-passenger, all-electric aircraft. Parker is providing electro-mechanical actuators for the fixed-wing model’s secondary flap systems. “We’re at the development phase, and it’s a great collaboration to design the safest and most efficient systems,” said Chris Frazer, Parker’s vice president for business, regional, and the AAM sector.

The new Parker Meggitt business unit is developing fire-suppression technology that would be less environmentally harmful than current solutions. It also has expertise in lithium batteries that could be expanded and experience in producing electric brakes that could potentially be adapted for new aircraft.

There might be more to come as Frazer said Parker has been talking to 10 eVTOL aircraft developers and two companies working on eSTOL models. Another product area it could exploit in this arena is sidestick flight controls that would have an enhanced failure mode to overcome safety concerns for single-pilot operations.

“We are talking to a lot of [AAM] people because we see what they are doing as a bridge to get our new technologies onto larger commercial aircraft that will eventually need them,” Frazer concluded. “This is a good opportunity to accelerate TRL [technology readiness levels] for other sectors of aviation that will need this more sustainable approach.”