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 eVTOLs. Buy the report here.
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
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.
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.