Accelerate Electric Aircraft Design Certification with Systems Simulation

June 25, 2022
Airplane Electric Powertrain and Battery Simulation

Electric Aircraft Are the Future  

The aviation industry has long imagined a future with electric aircraft. Development has started on smaller scales with aircraft such as electric vertical take-off and landing aircrafts (eVTOLs), short take-off and landing aircraft (e-STOLs), and others 

According to a May 2022 study by Aviation Today, e-aviation has potential of being a $200 billion-plus market.  Recent industry forecasts predict the growth of the global electric and hybrid-electric aircraft propulsion system market as well as the global hydrogen aircraft market to reach $74.9 billion by 2035 and $144.5 billion by 2040 respectively. 

Major trends of the development of e-aircrafts include:  

  1. Higher power density batteries  
  2. Increased safety standards to reduce battery thermal runaway  
  3. Shorter battery re-charge cycles with battery and hydrogen fuel-cell technology  
  4. Lighter, more efficient electric propulsion systems 
  5. Thermal management optimization  

Integrating Simulation in E-Aircraft Development 

It’s undeniable that e-aircrafts are making their impact into the next decade. 

By integrating simulation into the design process, development and testing times can be drastically reduced. This allows engineers to arrive at optimal solutions.  

Simulation tools such as GT-SUITE offers solutions to study many aspects of e-aircraft design (read this study on eVTOL design) from the overall vehicle system to battery pack electrical and thermal performance over flight missions. 

Since safety is paramount for e-aircrafts, GT-SUITE can also predict thermal runaway of battery cells and packs. Engineers can study down to the battery cell level and use GT’s electrochemistry modeling capabilities to predict cycle life, which is crucial in understanding the economic feasibility of various e-aircraft types. 

Ensuring Aircraft Design Certification with Simulation  

Despite the technological and economic development with e-aircrafts, mass adoption still faces the pressures of regulation, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification and rules governing airworthiness, traffic control technology and public concerns over noise and safety.  

Certification is estimated to cost $1 million for a primary category aircraft (three seats or less), $25 million for a general aviation aircraft, and upwards of $100 million for a commercial aircraft. 

GT-SUITE can help reduce certification costs and replace some testing requirements by being able to run large, fully detailed simulations within minutes, no matter an e-aircraft’s component sizing.  

e-Aircraft Projects Using Multi-Physics Simulation 

See how GT-SUITE ensure aircraft systems performance and safety certification here. This presentation provides a breakdown of three studies GT conducted with: Airbus  ,NASA, and Advanced Rotorcraft Technology (ART). 


eVTOL pack thermal performance and state of charge (SOC) over real flight missions with Airbus A³

At the 2019 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) P&E conference, GT presented a joint paper with Airbus to study eVTOL pack thermal performance and SOC over real flight missions, compared to physical tests. The study also looked at battery SOH over different mission cycling and thermal management strategies. 

Airbus A3 2019: eVTOL Battery Pack Thermal, SOC, & SOH study

Airbus A³ 2019: eVTOL Battery Pack Thermal, SOC, & SOH study


Battery Pack Thermal Runaway Simulation with NASA 

GT modeled a thermal runaway simulation of a NASA Orion module battery pack presented at the 2020 Thermal & Fluids Analysis Workshop (TFAWS). This study looked at lithium batteries combined with electrochemical and thermal modeling techniques and tested assumptions within the battery pack. GT’s multi-physics simulation addressed various battery pack design challenges. These included: battery selection, development of the right pack geometry, performance, degradation, and overall safety.  

Each 1D thermal runaway design takes about 15 minutes and enables users to experiment with battery thermal runaway uncertainties. On average, these models run roughly 2-4 times faster than real-time with just a laptop PC; resulting in a 30-minute simulation taking up to 7-15 minutes to run.  Solely relying on 3D-CFD models won’t provide complete variability analysis.


battery thermal runaway simulation

Battery Thermal Runaway Simulation


Click here to watch this full presentation!  

Learn more about our battery thermal simulation capabilities here! 


Complete ‘rotor to battery’ simulation solution in collaboration with Advanced Rotorcraft Technology 

At the 2022 Vertical Flight Society (VFS) Forum 78, GT collaborated with FLIGHTLAB – Advanced Rotorcraft Technology (ART) to highlight a complete ‘rotor to battery cell’ solution to address strict worthiness requirement for eVTOL design and development.  

eVTOL electric propulsion system

Our multi-physics simulation-led approach analyzes the combined airframe and drive system to improve drive systems for electric and hybrid-electric aircraft.  These efforts meet Urban Air Mobility (UAM) configurations. 

Fusion of 1D system modeling with 3D detailed analysis – Courtesy of Advanced Rotorcraft

Read the full study here!

Learn more about e-aircraft simulation 

Multi-physics Libraries with GT-SUITE

Multi-physics Libraries with GT-SUITE

If you’d like to learn more about how GT-SUITE can be used to solve your e-aircraft simulation challenges, contact us here!