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blog | eVTOL Aircraft: Solving Motion Challenges with Regal Rexnord Aerospace Solutions |
2 minute read

Recently, the buzz in the aviation industry has revolved around electric air-taxis, aerial ridesharing, unmanned aerial cargo delivery and more. These concepts all rely on a class of aircraft known as eVTOL, short for electric vertical takeoff and landing.

The market for eVTOL aircraft promises to grow very quickly. Although final regulations have not yet been issued by the major international aviation authorities, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration expects commercial eVTOLs to take to the skies in 2025 and by 2028 in urban areas. When they do start flying, these quiet, versatile, energy-efficient eVTOLs promise to revolutionize urban air mobility, supply-chain efficiency, emergency response and more.

Fierce competition to win in commercial, civil and military markets is already underway in the engineering departments of many established and startup aviation companies. In order to design and develop successful eVTOLs, manufacturers have an urgent need for motion systems and components that are light, compact, reliable and durable. And as new eVTOLs move from prototype to production, manufacturers must be confident that the specified products will be manufacturable at scale and deliverable wherever in the world they’re needed.

Regal Rexnord Aerospace Solutions offers industry-specific motion expertise and products, supporting eVTOL manufacturers from proof-of-concept through design and on to full-scale production. While many suppliers struggle to deliver the product specifications and quality required for these highly specialized aircraft, Regal Rexnord is a proven partner for meeting virtually any motion product demand in the volumes needed from prototype through global manufacturing.

We can help you meet the aerospace industry’s tough regulatory requirements, with AS9100 certification (the qualified management system standard for the aerospace industry) and D0-160G certification for environmental conditions and test procedures. We can be your single, consolidated source for the diverse motion products required for subsystems throughout the aircraft. And we can help your eVTOL program fly on time, on budget, on target.

Technical challenges

eVTOLs are a new kind of vehicle. Because they use electric motors, eVTOL designs can be much more flexible compared to helicopters with rotors in a fixed plane powered by internal-combustion engines. For example, built into many eVTOL designs are motion solutions that allow the propellor unit to tilt so that the propellers lift the vehicle off the ground then rotate forward to propel the vehicle toward its destination. Motion is critical to the design of this aircraft function.

eVTOLs also require actuators to orient the electric propulsion system and to move the ailerons, rudders and elevators that control the aircraft’s heading and attitude. Because of the many motion solutions required, manufacturers need access to compact, lightweight technologies that won’t burden the aircraft with unnecessary weight or compromise its aerodynamic design. Solutions must be tailored to meet the exact performance and fit specifications of each application.

As manufacturers take on the challenge of designing an effective model and then building it quickly in high quantities, they will need engineering partners who can prototype and produce motions solutions optimized to control propeller orientation, flight control surfaces and many other subsystems. And they need confidence that their motion supplier can rapidly and cost-effectively scale production of these solutions to meet soaring demand in a dynamic and intensely competitive market.

The role of motion and how Regal Rexnord can help

Regal Rexnord Aerospace Solutions offers the specialized products and expertise eVTOL manufacturers are looking for, with an extensive breadth of product lines across our many brands — all brought together to meet our mission of creating a better tomorrow. Here’s a high-level overview of what that means for the motion-dependent subsystems of your eVTOL design.

Tilt props. Actuators that control the positioning of the aircraft’s propulsion system — allowing it to take off and land vertically, but also fly forward like a conventional airplane — must be optimized for reliability as well as size, weight and power (SWaP). As with all electrical systems that share the aircraft’s battery power, energy efficiency is critical to maximize flight time. All of these requirements are likely to call for built-to-spec motion solutions. With our breadth of brands and aerospace-specific expertise, Regal Rexnord Aerospace Solutions can help you achieve a perfect fit while controlling costs and meeting tight design and production timelines.

Control surfaces. eVTOLs depend on electrical actuation of ailerons, elevators, rudders and other flight control surfaces to stabilize the aircraft and control its attitude. These systems must work reliably, in unison, while continuously adjusting position in response to both the pilot’s commands and the unpredictable buffeting of the atmosphere. Regal Rexnord Aerospace Solutions can help you achieve this highly coordinated motion with reliable, lightweight systems that deliver high frequency response while maintaining exceptional energy efficiency.

Propulsion. The motors that deliver the thrust of the aircraft — whether in vertical takeoff and landing mode or horizontal cruising mode — must be under continuous speed control. Regal Rexnord Aerospace Solutions offers resolvers in a variety of designs to suit the needs of each propulsion system design, all with the rugged reliability to withstand the often-harsh and punishing conditions encountered in flight, day after day, year after year. Custom bearings — available at fast lead times in various configurations — can be specified and verified for the loading of the application.

Environmental control. In-cabin HVAC system require precise regulation of the valves that control refrigerant, heating and air flow, as well as seals throughout the system that offer long-term reliability across a wide range of fluctuating temperatures and turbulent flying conditions. Regal Rexnord Aerospace Solutions offers HVAC solutions that have been proven reliable under the most extreme conditions.

Cockpit controls. As pilots manually control the aircraft’s speed, pitch, yaw and roll, they depend on haptic feedback to confirm their intended maneuvers and warn of any movements that could cause the plane to deviate from the safe flight envelope. Regal Rexnord offers lightweight, reliable, precise motors with zero cogging that produce the specific electrical characteristics required for precise haptic feedback in proven flight-control systems.

Regal Rexnord Aerospace Solutions brands

Every eVTOL project is different, and this blog post can’t possibly point you to the specific solutions you need. That said, here’s an overview of what each Regal Rexnord brand delivers. Our family of brands offers one of the largest solution sets in the aerospace industry along with the application expertise you need to succeed. We’ll work with you to combine elements from the full family of brands to help you convert power into motion. Contact us to discuss your unique project requirements, so we can guide you to the optimum solutions for your project.

Rexnord Aerospace. The premier provider of aerospace solutions and an industry leader in highly engineered specialty bearings, seals, gears and shafts. These products are used in flight-control systems, landing gear, various gearboxes, aircraft doors, airframe structures and more.

Portescap. The leader in miniature, precision motors and accessories offers a wide range of motor technologies used in flight-control systems, cockpit controls, environmental controls, valve actuators and many other applications.

Kollmorgen. The ideal partner for solving the most difficult aviation motion challenges, offering perfect-fit, high-performance motors and drives designed to deliver superior performance even in the most severe conditions. In particular, Kollmorgen’s frameless servo motors are ideal for orienting tilt props and flight-control surfaces.

Delevan. Standard and custom magnetics solutions and resolvers designed for durability and performance even under extreme conditions of mechanical shock and vibration encountered in aerospace applications.

Nook and Thomson. Innovative linear motion solutions including ball screws and screw jacks, proven to perform with confidence in a variety of flight-control and other aviation applications.

Formsprag Clutch. Precise high-quality overrunning sprag retainer assemblies, bidirectional clutches and backstops, electric clutches and brakes for commercial and military aircraft.

Your eVTOL can soar

There’s much more to consider than we can cover here. So talk with us, engineer-to-engineer, to discuss your specific motion needs and devise the best solutions.

Contact us to begin the motion-design process. Let’s get your eVTOL program off the ground and on target for success.

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