Electric Aircraft on the Horizon -- An Airport Planning Perspective

Design innovation for electrically powered and hybrid-electric aircraft is accelerating rapidly, with the possibility of electric aircraft being rolled out in the next 5 years. There are many potential benefits of electric aircraft, including lower O&M costs and reduced environmental impacts. But not all air service can be replaced by electrically powered aircraft, as batteries are heavy and significantly less energy dense compared with conventional aviation fuels, and electric aircraft may have different flight characteristics. Yet in certain applications (e.g., short-haul and cargo service), electric power may be more efficient than traditional power. The advent of electric aircraft offers both significant opportunities and disruptions for airports and their surrounding communities. Airports may have new roles to play regarding energy generation and transmission; at the same time, electric aircraft may impact revenue from fuel sales. Airports need guidance to be ready for the introduction and accommodation of electric aircraft into the airport environment. The objective of this research is to prepare a guidebook for airport industry practitioners to account for electric aircraft operations in their planning efforts. The guidebook should include, at a minimum: (1) An electric aircraft industry and market overview that provides: (a) A summary (up to 2 pages) of electric aircraft evolution; (b) A discussion of related national and global industry, technology, political, legislative, air service, employment, and social trends; (c) A discussion of related electric industry trends, including renewable and distributed generation, micro-grids and energy storage, and strategic electrification; (d) A summary of the potential impact of electric aircraft on airport facilities, terminal airspace, operations, planning, finances, and environmental sustainability; and (e) A discussion of the level of uncertainty about electric aircraft technology development and adoption, and its potential impact on airports; (2) Tools (e.g., rules-of-thumb, decision trees, checklists, flow charts) for incorporating electric aircraft activity into the planning process and that account for an airport's and community's unique characteristics; and (3) A glossary.uld be published in the fall 2021.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 03-51

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Airport Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001

    Federal Aviation Administration

    800 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, DC  United States  20591
  • Project Managers:

    Navarrete, Joseph

  • Performing Organizations:


    One Penn Plaza
    250 W 34th Street
    New York, New York  United States  10119
  • Principal Investigators:

    Le Bris, Gael

  • Start Date: 20190614
  • Expected Completion Date: 20210615
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01677267
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 03-51
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: Jul 31 2018 7:53PM