NASA plans to bolster electric aircraft innovation right here on Earth

Our planet is just as important to NASA as Mars.

NASA’s space fever has been reinvigorated in recent years, but it hasn’t forgotten about dear, rapidly-warming Earth. On Tuesday, NASA announced that it’s on the hunt for proposals for electric aircraft (h/t Engadget). The organization wants to expand its support of Electrified Aircraft Propulsion (EAP) and help push the industry forward faster. The proposal deadline is on April 20 and NASA hopes to bring the technology to market by 2035.

Investing in the environment — NASA has long put its brightest minds behind EAP development, working on hybrid and electric aircraft while building partnerships to make the technology more commercially available. These endeavors are much more in line to replace traditional commercial aircraft than the tiny vessels currently out there, and they’re on pace with alternatively-fueled concepts.

Now, NASA is interested in those who can show off integrated megawatt-class powertrain systems in test flights. These proposals will cover turboprops as well as going beyond this size into single-aisle aircraft and regional jet territory. As of 2019, about 40 percent of travel in the U.S. occurred on regional jets.

Cheaper, too — Supporting these advancements will not only have an impact on carbon emissions, but it’ll also save everyone money. Airlines can move past the environmental and financial cost of jet fuel, and in a perfect world, pass these savings along to customers.

“These flight demonstrations have strong applicability to sustainable and highly-efficient aircraft powertrain systems that will facilitate continued U.S. competitiveness for the next generation of commercial transport aircraft,” NASA’s Integrated Aviation System Program director, Lee Noble, said in a statement.

The organization is committed to the advancement of sustainable commercial aircraft, and these tests will help it establish regulations. It can also uncover and address gaps in the technology before it reaches the general public. It turns out some problems really are rocket science... and could benefit from having the professionals take them on.