AMRD: Innovating for Green Mass Air Transport

Prepared by Tom Gregory, Trainee Patent Attorney, and Richard Bray, Partner, both of Appleyard Lees IP LLP

Kamran Iqbal and Norman Wood of AMRD are inventors with a wealth of combined practical hands-on experience in the aerospace sector. They are innovating solutions to enable hybrid and all-electric aircraft development for green mass air transportation. AMRD develops hybrid and all-electric powertrains and related technology, suitable for retrofit of existing aircraft and for installation on new aircraft.

(Photo: AMRD)

About AMRD’s technology

AMRD is developing hybrid and all-electric powertrains, to minimise and eliminate aircraft CO2, NOx and noise emissions. AMRD’s research is focused on identifying and protecting innovative and disruptive technologies which would enable the development of hybrid and all-electric aircraft. Examples of their innovations include power management systems, cooling systems, and aircraft propulsion systems having both electric and gas turbine engines.

There is a particular focus in the aerospace industry on using electric batteries to power engines for domestic flight. However, current systems do not currently provide levels of redundancy and cooling necessary for safe operation. AMRD have also focused on the use of stored energy to minimise noise such that the technologies they have developed address all the future emission challenges; gaseous and acoustic.

Many of these innovations have been simulated and can be shown to deliver significant fuel savings, noise reductions, enhanced utilisation and other performance improvements when compared against an existing, successful regional aircraft like the ATR72.

The result is a regional aircraft that will provide benefit to the environment, the operator, the manufacturer and the passenger.

The problem the AMRD is solving

The growth in air transport continues unabated. Historically traffic has almost doubled every 15 years or so (predicted to be four times greater by 2050 compared with 2020) and the Industry is predicting and planning for that trend to continue for the foreseeable future. Alongside this is a growing awareness that air travel is having a significant impact on the environment. This is reflected in the EU Flightpath 2050 targets; a 75 percent reduction in CO2 emissions per passenger kilometre, a 90 percent reduction in NOx emissions and a 65 percent reduction in perceived noise.

While the sector has made substantial progress over the last 50 years in addressing some of these factors, the pace of improvement is slowing as opportunities to do so on existing aircraft diminish and we remain a long way from reversing the impact on the environment. Recent figures published by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) UK, suggest that the aviation sector will remain one of the main contributors to carbon production. Hence a paradigm shift to electric propulsion needs to be embraced now, and wholeheartedly.

Inspiration for AMRD’s work

To decarbonise the aviation sector by 2050, an objective set by the UK Government, AMRD has been focussing on developing differentiating and disruptive technologies that will enable the design and manufacture of hybrid and all-electric aircraft for green mass air transportation.

Kamran Iqbal

The paradigm shift in aviation enabled by electric propulsion has been recognised by AMRD as an open and fertile arena for innovation and opportunity.

Norman Wood

Intellectual property protection

To date, AMRD has filed 25+ patent applications with the UK Intellectual Property Office from 2018-2020. AMRD is looking to apply for international protection via the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). The PCT provides a cost-effective and efficient procedure for seeking protection at national patent offices in many major markets.

Protecting the innovation of a small research team is important to obtain a foothold in a well-funded, highly competitive and well-resourced sector.

Moreover, AMRD appreciate that a patent portfolio is a useful tool in securing investments - critical in the early years of a start-up business. Appleyard Lees is proud to support AMRD with an award from our Growth Fund.

AMRD’s work with Appleyard Lees, enabled them to not only establish robust protection of their inventions, but to also expand their concepts to ensure future value as the contributing technologies and integrated products evolve. AMRD established a strong synergy working with Appleyard Lees which has enhanced the value of their intellectual property (IP).

How policymakers can support innovation for a green future

The limited range and small capacity of proposed electric or hybrid-electric aircraft make it difficult for an airline to deploy them in profitable ways. By focussing on the key technical and integration challenges facing a larger aircraft, AMRD shows it is possible to launch regional aircraft with greater capacity and range.

“The key question remains ‘why doesn’t someone do this?’”, Kamran Iqbal commented. “There must be an organization with a desire to make a difference, who has the support of its shareholders and a Government that sees the value of the technology”.