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with electric primary propulsion, which would be an important certification pathway for larger, more complex aircraft that wish to use electric propulsion.

This investigation considers a balanced demonstration program that could be conducted for maximum impact, with controlled risk and cost. By targeting the performance and utility demanded of an early adopter market, this demonstrator program will kick off adoption of electric primary propulsion for aircraft and establish a much-needed operational basis for certification of larger, commercial aircraft. The demonstrator choices and technology concepts were selected from a blend of largely COTS motors and airframes to minimize development, and focus risk on the development of the hybrid SOFC-electric power system and integration into the airframe. This reduces the benefit that could be realized by electric propulsion, but showcases the impact of this approach on an “apples-to-apples” basis between the performance of capabilities of the unmodified aircraft and the selected demonstrator platform.

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The estimated performance of the selected demonstrator concepts shows that it is quite possible to achieve a 50% or greater reduction in fuel costs for light aircraft. As fuel tends to be the largest direct operating cost associated with light aircraft (it can be half, and perhaps even more, depending on fuel price fluctuation), this can significantly reduce the operational cost for aircraft equipped with this new technology. Given the potential higher reliability of electric motors, other direct and indirect operating costs (e.g. maintenance cost) may be reduced as well. These substantial reductions in operating cost will appeal to early adopters in the light aircraft market, particularly if the payback period of the difference in up-front cost between the gasoline engine and the electric powertrain and power system is well within the aircraft’s operational lifetime. Such early adopters will enable more rapid accumulation of certification data to enable application of these technologies to larger, commercial aircraft, either as a means of primary propulsion or for onboard electrical power generation for other electronic systems.

Acknowledgments This work is funded under the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate Seedling Fund, administered by

the NASA Aeronautics Research Institute (NARI). The authors would like to thank NARI, including Michael Dudley, Koushik Datta, and Deborah Bazar, for their assistance and support throughout this effort.

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