Commercial aircraft electrification—current state and future scope

Liya Tom, Muhammad Khowja, Gaurang Vakil, Chris Gerada

Research output: Journal PublicationReview articlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Electric and hybrid-electric aircraft propulsion are rapidly revolutionising mobility technologies. Air travel has become a major focus point with respect to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The electrification of aircraft components can bring several benefits such as reduced mass, environmental impact, fuel consumption, increased reliability and quicker failure resolution. Propulsion, actuation and power generation are the three key areas of focus in more electric aircraft technologies, due to the increasing demand for power-dense, efficient and fault-tolerant flight components. The necessity of having environmentally friendly aircraft systems has promoted the aerospace industry to use electrically powered drive systems, rather than the conventional mechanical, pneumatic or hydraulic systems. In this context, this paper reviews the current state of art and future advances in more electric technologies, in conjunction with a number of industrially relevant discussions. In this study, a permanent magnet motor was identified as the most efficient machine for aircraft subsystems. It is found to be 78% and 60% more power dense than switch-reluctant and induction machines. Several development methods to close the gap between existing and future design were also analysed, including the embedded cooling system, high-thermal-conductivity insulation materials, thin-gauge and high-strength electrical steel and integrated motor drive topology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8381
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021


  • Actuation
  • Aircraft electrification
  • Electrical machine
  • More electric aircraft
  • Power generation
  • Propulsion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Energy (miscellaneous)
  • Control and Optimization
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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