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What we do
Dr. Frank Anton believes the history of flight is defined by three pivotal moments. At the dawn of the 20th century, in 1903, the first engine-powered aircraft touched down after soaring for a total of twelve seconds. This was aviation’s first disruptive revolution: the airplane was born and an epoch of aeronautical innovation had begun.
Jumping ahead to the middle of the 20th century, as a new class of tourists sipped cocktails high over the Atlantic, a recent invention – the turbofan – propelled them and the glamorous Golden Age of Flying into the future. This air-breathing jet engine, although highly evolved, still powers air travel today and its commercial introduction in the 1950s and 60s can be considered the second disruptive aeronautical revolution.
Now in 2017, almost sixty years on from the adoption of the jet engine, Dr. Frank Anton and his world-class team are working away on the third disruptive revolution in the history of flight. And this time it’s electric and the stakes are even higher.
My goal is to hand over electric propulsion to the next generation in order to make aviation continue on this planet.
“My goal is to hand over electric propulsion to the next generation in order to make aviation continue on this planet. Because if we don’t it will disappear,” says Dr. Anton from his office on the Siemens campus in Erlangen, Germany.
The risk to aviation? “Regional traffic will vanish from our skies if we cannot lower carbon dioxide levels. And we absolutely cannot lower carbon dioxide, whilst keeping planes in the sky, without electric propulsion.”
That’s a grave prospect for a life-long lover of everything with wings. But Dr. Anton is optimistic about the future of flight as he and his team have already designed, built and flown a fully working hybrid-electrical propulsion system.