MIT collaborates on assessment of potential for all-electric commercial aircraft

A short intensive study called Systems Aspects of Electric Commercial Aircraft (SEACA) has been launched in collaboration with University College London (UCL) and the University of Southampton in the UK. Stakeholders engaged in the study include Airbus, Rolls-Royce, and the UK Aerospace Technology Institute. MIT’s contribution will be on the overall configuration design of potential all-electric commercial aircraft and their energy use.

MIT’s work is based on a modified version of TASOPT — the code developed by Prof. Mark Drela to design the NASA N+3 D8. This was a conventionally fueled aircraft that could reduce fuel burn by up to 71% given assumed advanced technology being available. TASOPT has been modified to become TASOPTe for all-electric aircraft. The work aims to define the feasible missions that are possible given anticipated technology levels.

 

Others on the research team are assessing the noise impacts of MIT’s aircraft configurations, economic assessment relative to conventional aircraft, and lifecycle environmental assessment considering the role of grid carbon intensity.

The study aims to provide a broad assessment of the overall feasibility of electric aircraft, considering the technological, economic, and environmental aspects.