The aerospace and defence industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the uptake of advanced technology, and growing importance of technologies such as hypersonics and advanced materials. In the last three years alone, there have been over 174,000 patents filed and granted in the aerospace and defence industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in Aerospace, Defence & Security: Aircraft battery packs.
However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity.
Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.
180+ innovations will shape the aerospace and defence industry
According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the aerospace and defence industry using innovation intensity models built on over 262,000 patents, there are 180+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.
Within the emerging innovation stage, bonded fibre laminates, thermoplastic elastomer laminates, and vibration supression devices are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Centrifugal fan impellers, ceramic composite laminates, and gas turbine engine testing are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are protective blade coatings and blade alloy welding, which are now well established in the industry.
The main electrical system of an aircraft utilises batteries, which are used pre-flight to power up the electrical system and to launch the auxiliary power unit and, in some cases, the engines. The APU, once started, drives generators, which power the electrical circuits in the aircraft and charge the batteries.
GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defence companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of aircraft battery packs.
Key players in aircraft battery packs – a disruptive innovation in the aerospace and defence industry
‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.
‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.
Patent volumes related to aircraft battery packs
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
CEA is the leading patent filer in aircraft battery packs. The patents include a number of applications for smart and modular battery packs as well as patents for powering key aspects of the aircraft. SZ DJI is the second largest patent filer in the sector and is focused on battery packs for small UAVs, creating innovative new technology which has modular capabilities and can be swapped out to avoid losing time on recharging. Other key patent filers include Airbus, Boeing and Naval Group.
In terms of application diversity, Ford Motor is in top position, followed by Nippon Kayaku, Hyndai Motor Group and Autel Robotics. By geographic distribution, Cayago is first, followed by Wartsila and Porsche.
There has been significant innovation in batteries in recent years, in part to fuel the development of electric aircraft and vehicles and major companies are investing in developing battery technology for implementation with existing systems.
To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the aerospace and defence industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Aerospace and Defence.