BRUSSELS, Belgium – Tuesday the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) assisted with the organisation and support of a round-table event on Electric Aviation in the European Parliament in Brussels hosted by Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Erik Bergkvist. The event showcased the breadth of ongoing developments and opportunities for Electric Aviation in Europe and facilitated discussions on what is needed to accelerate bringing these sustainable air mobility solutions to market for EU citizens.
MEP Erik Bergkvist is the Rapporteur for an important report, currently under debate this week in the European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee, titled “Electric aviation – a solution for short- and mid-range flights”, which aims to highlight the key policy and legislative measures needed to accelerate the development of Electric Aviation in Europe.
“General Aviation has consistently demonstrated its role as the incubator of innovation for the entire aviation industry, most notably in the context of bringing to market real solutions for zero and low-emissions air mobility advancements through battery-electric, hybrid-electric and hydrogen fuel-cell powered flight. GAMA member companies are at the forefront of this sustainable aviation revolution, but to make it a reality, critical policy, regulatory and financial measures are needed in the near-term” said Kyle Martin, GAMA Vice President, European Affairs, during the first of three panel discussions in the European Parliament.
“As pioneers in the field of electric aviation, Pipistrel, with Textron eAviation, a Textron Inc. company were honored to contribute to this crucial dialogue. General Aviation is the key to delivering bigger change in the wider aviation industry. The sector is enabling scalable technology and by working with smaller projects we are preparing regulators, mechanics, engineers, pilots, and the whole ecosystem for the future. Thank you to GAMA for organizing this roundtable. Forums like these play a vital role in fostering industry-wide collaboration to bring air mobility solutions to the European market,” said Gabriel Massey, President and Managing Director at Pipistrel.
“Today the European Parliament is being introduced to clean aviation, a growing and dynamic industry which has considerable economic and societal benefits. As the technological spin-off of the Solar Impulse project, the first electric airplane to fly around the world, with no fossil fuels and only energy from the sun, H55 wholeheartedly welcomes supporting the TRAN committee in providing our insights into the challenges and opportunities associated with bringing to the market clean aviation solutions. The technological and economic paradigms of air transportation are changing, and clean air transportation will undoubtedly become an important driver for economic growth and job creation. Europe has a competitive advantage in aviation, and industry and governments need to continue to work together to leverage these new opportunities to ensure that Europe’s aviation leadership position remains solid. We look forward to working with GAMA and member states in fostering European innovation to reach net-zero emissions by 2050,” said Gregory Blatt, H55 co-founder and CSMO.
“Electrification is the logical evolution for the aviation industry with the advancements in propulsion technology, and Europe, with its rich history of pioneering aviation innovation has an opportunity to lead the change. However, without collective ambition, funding and solid, EU-wide policies and regulatory frameworks, Europe risks falling behind and losing out to its global competitors. Europe is an important market for Skyports Infrastructure and home to our world-class vertiport testbed, where we are developing critical infrastructure processes and technology for the burgeoning electric aviation sector. With today’s roundtable, we are setting forth critical requirements that will enable industry to help realise Europe’s electric aviation potential,” said Simon Whalley, Chief Regulatory Officer at Skyports Infrastructure.
“At Volocopter, we are committed to providing a safe, sustainable and quiet mode of transport in megacities of the world – starting with Europe next year. To unlock the true potential of this sector, there is an urgent need for Europe to create a robust regulatory framework and devise new funding mechanisms” said Michael Hillermeier, Director Strategy, Markets and Business Development, Volocopter.
Simon McNamara, Director Government & Industry Affairs, Heart Aerospace said, “We believe electric and hybrid-electric airplanes will not only decarbonize regional air travel, but also rejuvenate it by offering lower operational costs. In the spirit of the EU’s mantra of no state being left behind, we believe this change will ensure more regional communities in all EU member states are able to enjoy convenient, regional connectivity.”
“Europe is in a pole position of electric aviation but runs the risk of losing its pioneers. We have several internationally leading companies and a clear route to certification and operations established by EASA,” Lilium Executive Dr. Saskia Horsch said. “However, we are clearly disadvantaged financially. While other countries offer significant public funds to support this burgeoning industry, here in Europe we rely on scarce private capital in a crunch market. Existing public funding at EU or national level are not tailored to the needs of a high-tech, capital-intense, long lead time industry. That’s why we need a level playing field or will lose promising enterprises and the opportunities they bring. Together, we can make a significant contribution to decarbonizing regional aviation and driving growth, jobs, and autonomy in a strategically crucial area. Europe should act and help a highly innovative segment to get off the ground now.”
Michael Cervenka, Chief Technology Officer at Vertical Aerospace said, “We are experiencing the most significant revolution in aerospace technology since the launch of the jet era. New forms of propulsion, like battery electric, will provide a quiet, clean, affordable and safe new forms of air transport, changing the way people travel. But to capture the benefits at home, the European Union needs to make sure it has the right policies and levers to enable this nascent sector to compete and thrive.”
Jean-Francois Rideau, Head of Strategy and Partnership for the Power division of Safran Electrical and Power said : “Safran is commited to meet the challenge of reducing aircraft emissions. One of the way is to achieve this strategic priority is to deliver innovative and competitive technologies to support electrification and hybridization from small planes to long haul commercial aircraft. Safran ambitions to be the first in the world to certify a propulsive electric motor for aviation and pave the way to this future”
GAMA member companies are actively developing electric aviation solutions that are expected to come to market in the coming years, including electrical vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) and fixed-wing aeroplane solutions for a broad range of air mobility services. During the discussions, the following were highlighted as key EU policy measures to accelerate these developments:
- Creating the appropriate EU and member state financial frameworks to promote research, development and bring a range of electric aviation products to market.
- Building a robust and resilient European supply chain for core components to ensure a swift uptake of new technologies in the marketplace.
- Exploring synergies between the aeronautics sector and existing industry frameworks to support the development of batteries and fuel cells, including improving recycling technologies.
- Investing in battery recycling infrastructure and R&D in advanced materials to minimise external dependencies.
- Ensuring that the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has increased public funding to efficiently and effectively carry out rulemaking and certification tasks and the ability to retain expert staff who are critical to bringing electric aviation solutions to market.
- Promoting harmonization of certification and electric charging standards for electric aviation with bilateral aviation partners around the globe to support the export of products.