Study highlights sustainable role for VTOL aircraft

ANN ARBOR, Mich., - Compiled by researchers at the University of Michigan in partnership with Ford Motor Company, the study looked at the primary energy use and greenhouse gas emissions during the five phases of VTOL flight: takeoff, climb, cruise, descent and landing. As VTOLs use the bulk of their energy during takeoff and climb, they are less efficient over shorter distances, needing a sustained period of low-energy cruise to deliver gains. During trips of 100km, for example, it was found that a VTOL carrying a pilot and three passengers had lower greenhouse gas emissions than ground-based cars, reports The Engineer.

Apr 10th, 2019
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ANN ARBOR, Mich., - Compiled by researchers at the University of Michigan in partnership with Ford Motor Company, the study looked at the primary energy use and greenhouse gas emissions during the five phases of VTOL flight: takeoff, climb, cruise, descent and landing. As VTOLs use the bulk of their energy during takeoff and climb, they are less efficient over shorter distances, needing a sustained period of low-energy cruise to deliver gains. During trips of 100km, for example, it was found that a VTOL carrying a pilot and three passengers had lower greenhouse gas emissions than ground-based cars, reports The Engineer.

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The Intelligent Aerospace take:

April 10, 2019 -The University of Michigan and Ford study is focused on the environmental feasibility of VTOL aircraft rather than engineering, but because VTOL air systems do not have to follow roads and will likely carry more passengers on aggregate than a traditional internal combustion engine automobile, it will have a "greener" carbon footprint during intermediate distance trips of 100km (62 miles).

“To me, it was very surprising to see that VTOLs were competitive with regard to energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in certain scenarios,” said Gregory Keoleian, senior author of the study and director of the Center for Sustainable Systems at U-M’s School for Environment and Sustainability. “VTOLs with full occupancy could outperform ground-based cars for trips from San Francisco to San Jose or from Detroit to Cleveland, for example.”

Related: Bell and Rolls-Royce collaborate on next-gen VTOL propulsion systems

Related: Boeing's autonomous electronic VTOL passenger vehicle completes first flight

Related: Bell and Moog ink deal on VTOL flight control actuation system for Bell's Air Taxi

Jamie Whitney, Associate Editor
Intelligent Aerospace

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