Why in News:
- The Union Civil Aviation Minister has said that the Government of India is exploring the possibility of inviting manufacturers of Electric Vertical Take off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft to set up base in India.
What is eVTOL?
- An electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft is one that uses electric power to hover, take off, and land vertically.
- Most eVTOLs also use what is called as distributed electric propulsion technology which means integrating a complex propulsion system with the airframe. There are multiple motors for various functions; to increase efficiency; and to also ensure safety.
- This is technology that has grown on account of successes in electric propulsion based on progress in motor, battery, fuel cell and electronic controller technologies and also fuelled by the need for new vehicle technology that ensures urban air mobility (UAM). Thus, eVTOL is one of the newer technologies and developments in the aerospace industry.
- eVTOL as being identified as a technological solution for the globe’s transportation needs. This is because it opens up new possibilities which aircraft with engines cannot carry out in areas such as manoeuvrability, efficiency and even from the environmental point of view.
- In short, eVTOLs have been likened to “a third wave in an aerial revolution”; the first being the advent of commercial flying, and the second, the age of helicopters.
What are the challenges?
- As the technology so far is a mix of unpiloted and piloted aircraft, the areas in focus include crash prevention systems. These use cameras, radar, GPS (global positioning system) and infrared scanners. There are also issues such as ensuring safety in case of powerplant or rotor failure.
- Aircraft protection from cyberattacks is another area of focus.
- A third area is in navigation and flight safety and the use of technology when operating in difficult terrain, unsafe operating environments and also bad weather.