The aerospace and defence industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the uptake of advanced technology, and growing importance of technologies such as hypersonics and advanced materials. In the last three years alone, there have been over 174,000 patents filed and granted in the aerospace and defence industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in Aerospace, Defence & Security: Electric aircraft charging techniques.
However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity.
Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.
180+ innovations will shape the aerospace and defence industry
According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the aerospace and defence industry using innovation intensity models built on over 262,000 patents, there are 180+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.
Within the emerging innovation stage, bonded fibre laminates, thermoplastic elastomer laminates, and vibration supression devices are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Centrifugal fan impellers, ceramic composite laminates, and gas turbine engine testing are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are protective blade coatings and blade alloy welding, which are now well established in the industry.
Innovation S-curve for the aerospace and defence industry
Electric aircraft charging techniques is a key innovation area in aerospace and defence
Electric aircraft is an emerging sector and utilises batteries to power flight. Electric aircraft are mostly still at the experimental stage and new charging techniques are needed to facilitate their introduction into the commercial space.
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 50+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defence companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of electric aircraft charging techniques.
Key players in electric aircraft charging techniques – a disruptive innovation in the aerospace and defence industry
‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.
‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.
Patent volumes related to electric aircraft charging techniques
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
The majority of investors in electric aircraft charging techniques are drone companies seeking to develop UAV charging, either in fixed batteries or removeable ones. SZ DJI and Wing Aviation have both filed patents to this end, aiming to create more efficient charging systems which can enable more industry use. Boeing is attempting to enable future electric aviation by developing advanced electrical aircraft charging techniques. Other key patent filers include Hyundai, Semiconductor Energy Laboratory and Workhorse Group.
In terms of application diversity, European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) is top, followed by Kespry and SoftBank Group. By geographic reach, Semiconductor Energy Laboratory is top followed by ThyssenKrupp and Neva Aerospace.
Electric aviation charging will need significant innovation as unlike a smaller drone, it is extremely difficult to swap out the battery, meaning it likely has to be charged in the aircraft. For electric aircraft to be commercially viable, they will have to be provided with charging solutions.
To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the aerospace and defence industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Defence.