Aircraft may fly all electric

US engineers have finished testing a device which could result in all an aircraft’s systems – other than the engines – being electrically powered. Nasa’s Dryden flight research centre in Edwards, California, has developed an electro-hydrostatic actuator which eliminates or reduces an aircraft’s dependence on hydraulic, mechanical and pneumatic systems. Using the actuator could lead […]

US engineers have finished testing a device which could result in all an aircraft’s systems – other than the engines – being electrically powered.

Nasa’s Dryden flight research centre in Edwards, California, has developed an electro-hydrostatic actuator which eliminates or reduces an aircraft’s dependence on hydraulic, mechanical and pneumatic systems.

Using the actuator could lead to a 5-9% cut in fuel bills on an all-electric aircraft, which would also be 30-50% less dependent on ground equipment.

The actuator has been tested on an aileron of Nasa’s own F/A-18 research aircraft.

Nasa said the device ‘fools’ aircraft computers into thinking that a standard actuator is on board. It contains a small quantity of hydraulic fluid and uses an electric pump to move the aileron.

The actuator was designed under a collaborative US Air Force, US Navy and Nasa research effort to develop ‘power by drive’ systems.