On November 21, a memorial reception for Dr. Tej Gupta was hosted in the Henderson Building at Embry-Riddle. Friends, family and faculty gathered to celebrate his life and contributions to the University. For 35 years, Dr. Gupta was a dedicated engineering faculty member. Dr. Gupta’s passing is an irreplaceable loss to the family, the Aerospace Engineering Department, the College of Engineering, and the entire University. The Aerospace Engineering Department has dedicated a sitting area outside the Lehman Building in Dr. Gupta's memory.
Since the advent of the jet engine in the mid-1940’s, developments in aircraft propulsion have been largely incremental. Evolving technologies in electrical energy storage will lead to the next large-scale transformational leap in aircraft propulsion. Looking into the future, it is speculated that aircraft as large a 737 will be electrically powered in 100 years or less. The Boeing Company has been investigating a 737 sized hybrid aircraft for possible production in 20-30 years called the Sugar Volt. The reason for electric power is many and varied, but includes high efficiency, low emissions and low environmental noise. The limiting technology factor, at present, is the energy density and safety of stored electricity to power these engines. Trends in electrical storage are reminiscent of the microchips of decades ago. Like the progression of microchips, the technical evolutions in the power of a battery and other storage devices is accelerating with trend lines point at the feasibility of electric powered aircraft in the not too distant future. As with cars, hybrid aircraft will be a stepping stone to full electric aircraft. NASA has recently shown interest in hybrid aircraft propulsion and has started to provide a limited amount of research funding in this area. In Europe, Siemens, Diamond Aircraft and EADS has flown an electric HK-36 (motor glider) with a production goal of 2017 and a 4 seat version goal of 2019. In 2013 these three companies singed an MOU to jointly pursue a hybrid regional jet by 2030. The lack of development of hybrid propulsion in the US may be due to limited resources, limited understanding of the technology or limited expertise in an area that is not a traditional aerospace strength. To solve this ERAU [...]