The aerospace and defense industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by environmental sustainability, electrification, and operational efficiency, and the growing importance of technologies such as hydrogen and electric aircraft and advanced materials. 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 Environmental sustainability in defense: hybrid eVTOLsBuy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 206,000 patents to analyze innovation intensity for the aerospace and defense industry, there are 110 innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Hybrid eVTOLs is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

Hybrid electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (eVTOLs) are aircraft that use a combination of electric propulsion and traditional combustion engines to power their rotors. They are designed for short-distance, urban air travel and aim to be more environmentally friendly and quieter than traditional helicopters.

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 300+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defense companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of hybrid eVTOLs.

Key players in hybrid eVTOLs – 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 hybrid eVTOLs

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Rolls-Royce 821 Unlock Company Profile
AeroVironment 68 Unlock Company Profile
Embraer 20 Unlock Company Profile
Karem Aircraft 13 Unlock Company Profile
Subaru 32 Unlock Company Profile
KKR 14 Unlock Company Profile
Israel Aerospace Industries 32 Unlock Company Profile
Lockheed Martin 37 Unlock Company Profile
National Aeronautics and Space Administration 13 Unlock Company Profile
Melrose Industries 14 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 107 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 49 Unlock Company Profile
LG Display 14 Unlock Company Profile
Snecma 68 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 751 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 75 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 14 Unlock Company Profile
Leonardo 49 Unlock Company Profile
Porsche Automobil 107 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon Technologies 577 Unlock Company Profile
RTX 577 Unlock Company Profile
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency 20 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 15 Unlock Company Profile
Textron 246 Unlock Company Profile
Safran 1060 Unlock Company Profile
Boeing 347 Unlock Company Profile
LG 30 Unlock Company Profile
Airbus 676 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 41 Unlock Company Profile
Chugoku Electric Power 16 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 28 Unlock Company Profile
SoftBank Group 26 Unlock Company Profile
Kia 44 Unlock Company Profile
SZ DJI Technology 130 Unlock Company Profile
Top Flight Technologies 31 Unlock Company Profile
EADS Deutschland 38 Unlock Company Profile
Meditor European Master Fund 25 Unlock Company Profile
Alakai Technologies 35 Unlock Company Profile
Kitty Hawk 81 Unlock Company Profile
Aurora Innovation 97 Unlock Company Profile
Volocopter 24 Unlock Company Profile
Nileworks 22 Unlock Company Profile
Autel Robotics USA 33 Unlock Company Profile
Jetoptera 75 Unlock Company Profile
H55 30 Unlock Company Profile
Overair 23 Unlock Company Profile
VoltAero 26 Unlock Company Profile
Searete 14 Unlock Company Profile
Wisk Aero 37 Unlock Company Profile
Foshan Shenfeng Aviation Technology 14 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

British manufacturer Rolls-Royce is one of the leading patent filers in hybrid eVTOLs. The company filed several patents related to hybrid electric drive system for aircraft comprising an internal combustion (IC) engine coupled with an electric motor, which is fed with electrical energy converted from the mechanical energy produced by the IC engine by means of a generator on board the aircraft. It also filed patents for innovative energy storage, air supply, and cooling systems for electric hybrid propulsion systems for aircraft.

While the current battery-powered all-electric propulsion technology can enable eVTOLs for short flights, Rolls-Royce is developing a new turbogenerator design to allow recharging of the batteries after take-off and enable the aircraft to switch between power sources during flight, ensuring smart power distribution and longer flight range. Expected to enter service in 2029, the turbogenerator will initially use sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) with a target to deliver onboard power between 500kW and 1200kW, and later transition to hydrogen fuel when the technology becomes more widely available.

Some other key patent filers in the hybrid eVTOL space include Safran, Airbus, and Raytheon Technologies (RTX).

In terms of application diversity Karem Aircraft, Overair, and Wisk Aero are some of the leading innovators. By means of geographic reach, the leading patent filers include Jetoptera, VoltAero, and Safran.

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