The aerospace and defense industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by automation, environmental sustainability, and operational efficiency, and the growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), drones, and satellites. In the last three years alone, there have been over 237,000 patents filed and granted in the aerospace and defense industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in defense: aircraft power management. Buy the report here.

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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 stabilizing 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.

110 innovations will shape the aerospace and defense industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the aerospace and defense industry using innovation intensity models built on over 206,000 patents, there are 110 innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, aircraft fuel cell APUs, self-calibrating scanners, and vibration supression devices are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Aircraft ultrasonic inspection, aircraft power distribution network, and contour scanning interferometry are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are precision-guided firearms and aircraft power management, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the aerospace and defense industry

Aircraft power management is a key innovation area in aerospace and defense

Aircraft power management refers to the systems and methods used to efficiently distribute and regulate electrical power in an aircraft. This involves controlling the supply of power to various electric devices and sockets on the aircraft, managing the charging and discharging of energy storage devices, and optimizing power distribution based on predicted energy demands and operational characteristics of the flight. Power management systems help reduce power draw, ensure reliability and redundancy, and maximize energy efficiency in aircraft.

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 defense companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of aircraft power management.

Key players in aircraft power management – a disruptive innovation in the aerospace and defense industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.   

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.  

Patent volumes related to aircraft power management

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
COSCO Shipping 4 Unlock Company Profile
United Aircraft 1 Unlock Company Profile
Rolls-Royce 29 Unlock Company Profile
Astronics 1 Unlock Company Profile
Diehl Stiftung 17 Unlock Company Profile
Thales 9 Unlock Company Profile
Lockheed Martin 2 Unlock Company Profile
Phitek Systems 2 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 78 Unlock Company Profile
BAE Systems 15 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 2 Unlock Company Profile
Leonardo 2 Unlock Company Profile
Nabtesco 6 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon Technologies 51 Unlock Company Profile
Textron 8 Unlock Company Profile
Safran 57 Unlock Company Profile
Boeing 72 Unlock Company Profile
Airbus 50 Unlock Company Profile
IBM 2 Unlock Company Profile
Kawasaki Heavy Industries 6 Unlock Company Profile
IMAGIK INTERNATIONAL 6 Unlock Company Profile
Archer Aviation 3 Unlock Company Profile
Recaro Aircraft Seating 1 Unlock Company Profile
Plato Media 8 Unlock Company Profile
Kitty Hawk 9 Unlock Company Profile
H55 5 Unlock Company Profile
Wisk Aero 2 Unlock Company Profile
Kawasaki Jukogyo Kabushiki Kaisha 2 Unlock Company Profile
Iveco Group 1 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Boeing is one of the leading patent filers in the field of aircraft power management. It filed patents related to electrical load management, current balancing within a modular converter system, advanced energy monitoring and control systems, intelligent energy management architecture, life-optimal power management methods for battery networks system, and regulated transformer rectifier unit for aircraft systems.  

The company works with the US Air Force to develop advanced power-control and thermal-management systems for the next generation of fighter aircraft. These systems are crucial for integrating emerging technologies, such as laser weapons, potent electronic warfare capabilities and enhanced stealth features, into future jet fighters.

Some other key patent filers in this space include Safran, Raytheon Technologies, and Airbus.   

In terms of application diversity, Textron, Wisk Aero, and Rolls-Royce are some of the leading innovators. By means of geographic reach, some of the leading patent filers include Thales, BAE Systems, and Diehl Stiftung.  

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the aerospace and defense industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Aerospace & Defense

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.