Global commercial aviation industry looks to more electric aircraft


LONDON – The aircraft industry is developing the More Electric Aircraft (MEA), with the ultimate goal of distributing only electrical power across the airframe. The replacement of existing systems with electric equivalents has, and will continue to, significantly increase the electrical power requirement.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (, Global Commercial Aviation Electrical Power Systems, and Infrastructure Market Assessment estimates the market to reach more than US$24.0 billion by 2017.

“The use of More Electric architecture on aircraft offers significant cost benefits with lower recurring costs, due to fewer parts, integration of key sub-systems, and multi-use of components,” observed Frost & Sullivan Consulting analyst Balaji Srimoolanathan. “It also reduces the overall cost of operation and ownership, because its architecture helps contain fuel consumption and increases overall aircraft performance and energy usage. Reduced maintenance and ground support also help lower the cost of ownership and operation.”

Conventional aircraft employ a number of systems dependent on hydraulic, mechanical, pneumatic, and electrical sources. Due to the ineffectiveness of these systems and their weight contribution, novel technologies have to evolve to generate, distribute, and utilize electrical power as an alternative to conventional systems to drive components.

“Regulations urging manufacturers to develop more environmentally-friendly and greener aircraft has led to the increased use of electric systems that reduce fuel consumptions and lower emission levels,” stated Srimoolanathan. “Addressing eco-friendly, emission-free, and highly-efficient systems development to reduce carbon emissions remains a key challenge for the industry in its bid to achieve sustainable growth.”

Competition exists within the market for aircraft electrical power systems at sub-system levels. With the design and manufacturing capacity limited to sub-systems between a few tier-two suppliers, others compete on all the sub-systems and associated products. The overall market is consolidated to the extent of 70 percent, which makes it a very niche market with a few dominant participants. With increasing applications, this market is set to expand significantly over the next decade.