The aerospace and defence industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the need to lower operational costs, larger consumer trends, and electrification, and growing importance of technologies such as hydrogen and electric aircraft 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 Environment Sustainability in Aerospace, Defence & Security: EV charging stations.
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, hydrogen fuel cells, aircraft powertrain control, and fuel cells for aircraft are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. EV charging stations, battery management systems, and electric aircraft charging interfaces are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are fuselage frame modelling and powered wheels for aircraft landing, which are now well established in the industry.
Innovation S-curve for environmental sustainability in the aerospace and defence industry
EV charging stations is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability
An electric vehicle charging station is an equipment that connects an electric vehicle (EV) to a source of electricity to recharge electric cars, neighbourhood electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.
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 100+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defence companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of EV charging stations.
Key players in EV charging stations – 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 EV charging stations
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
Amongst aerospace and defence companies, Boeing is one of the leading patent filers in EV charging stations, along with its affiliated company, Wisk Aerou, which was formed in 2019 through a joint venture between Boeing and Kitty Hawk, and has Boeing serving as the firm’s strategic partner, providing development, testing, and certification support. Wisk is pursuing the development of all-electric, autonomous, four-seat eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) air taxis for passenger transport. In order to roll out their product, the development of recharging stations is essential for deployment at proposed urban air transport hubs. Some other key patent filers in the aerospace and defense industry include Airbus, Textron, and SkyX.
In terms of application diversity, amongst aerospace and defence companies Textron leads the pack. SkyX and Boeing stood in second and third positions respectively. Regarding geographic reach, Safran holds the patents with the greatest reach, followed by Wisk Aero and SkyX.
EV charging stations in the medium term will be an essential component of the proposed novel segment of the aviation industry — urban air transport. It is proposed that small EVTOL aircraft can be used for very short-range aerial transport in urban areas between hubs at which charging stations will be positioned.
To further understand how electric vehicles are disrupting the aerospace and defence industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Thematic Research - Electric Vehicles in Defence.