Canadian Greener Aircraft
ABOUT CANADIAN GREENER AIRCRAFT CERTITICATION INITIATIVE
The Canadian Greener Aircraft Certification Initiative (CGACI) aims to foster the adoption of sustainable aerospace propulsive technologies in Canada by connecting companies interested in designing and manufacturing “green” aircraft with the technical expertise required to certify and successfully bring to market their products.
We are presently looking for small-to-medium (i.e. less than $100 million/year revenue) aircraft manufacturers and start-up companies interested in joining the cause.
CHALLENGE & OPPORTUNITY
The ongoing shift to environmentally sustainable technologies presents both a challenge and an opportunity for the aerospace industry. On the one hand, the public discourse is becoming more and more critical of aviation as a source of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions, already prompting actions by several European countries. On the other hand, the emergence of new propulsion technologies, such as electric propulsion, is giving rise to a revolution in the aerospace field, leading to hundreds of new aircraft projects (outside of Canada).
While designing such new aircraft is already technologically feasible, the biggest hurdle facing prospective manufacturers is passing the aircraft certification process. For the past decades, it took less time to design an aircraft than to get the design approved by the regulator (Transport Canada, FAA, EASA, etc.)
Aircraft engineering is one of the most tightly regulated industries in the world. For an aircraft to be commercially viable and eligible for sale and operation (other than as experimental or homebuilt), it must pass through a very rigorous process of aircraft certification (sometimes also called initial airworthiness approval), comprising of design reviews, analyses and testing to show it’s compliance with the design standards. Only then will the aircraft be issued a Type Design approval by Transport Canada (or a Supplemental Type Design for an aircraft modification).
This task has been proven to be a significant barrier to new entrants in the field, both in Canada and worldwide, even when for designs using traditional means of propulsion. This challenge is vastly magnified in the case of new propulsive technologies and novel designs.
The technologies useful in reducing aircraft greenhouse gas emissions can be broadly categorizes as evolutionary and revolutionary, as follow:
Electric propulsion (battery-powered)
Hybrid propulsion (electric & fossil fuel combination)
Hydrogen-fueled propulsion (hydrogen fuel cell and hydrogen-combustion)
Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF)
Of the above, the battery-powered electric propulsion and the use of SAFs are at present ready to be incorporated into practical aircraft designs. These are followed by the hybrid-propulsion technology and the hydrogen-electric (fuel cells) designs. Lastly, hydrogen combustion propulsion holds the most promise for jet transport aviation but remains a long way from practical and safe implementation.
Latest generation aircraft engines utilizing fossil fuels are between 5% to 30% more fuel-efficient than previous generations. This reduction has been accomplished by engine manufacturers using various means, including optimal combustor design, improved materials, and Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) technology. Modern engines also tend to have a lower emission signature, aside from their improved fuel efficiency.
Despite that, only a small fraction of in-service aircraft employs the newest engine technology. This is particularly true of the general aviation sector, where much of the propulsive technology dates back to the 1960s or even earlier.
ENGINE VS AIRCRAFT CERTIFICATION
It must be noted engine certification itself and the certification of engine installation on an aircraft are two separate and distinct activities performed to different design standards. The engine manufacturer performs its Type Design certification to Part 33 regulations.
The airframer still needs to perform its own certification for the engine-aircraft installation to the applicable aircraft-level propulsion system requirements (Part 23,25,27, or 29, depending on aircraft type), which are even broader than for the engine itself and involve a significant amount of analyses and testing.
CANADA VS THE WORLD
The number of green-propulsion aircraft projects worldwide continues to rise, already in the hundreds. According to recent data from Germany-based Roland Berger Gmbh, by August 2021, approximately 280 green aircraft projects were in the development process. This number excludes UAVs and does not account for Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) conversions.
A separate count from the Vertical Flight Society (formerly American Helicopter Society) shows around 600 eVtol concepts by 350 different companies in various stages of development. This figure does not account for fixed-wing, conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) aircraft.
A significant proportion of the green aircraft & eVtol projects is already undergoing the aircraft certification process, predominantly in the USA and Europe, with their certification basis and the applicable additional technical conditions agreed upon with their regulatory authorities.
In comparison, the following is the number of green aircraft projects undergoing aircraft certification in Canada as of January 21, 2022:
New aircraft (fixed-wing & eVtol):
Conversions of existing aircraft (STC):
This has to change. We must not let our aerospace industry fall behind, but instead foster its growth to match - or exceed - the advances being made in other countries.
Join us to get involved!