Even so, hydrogen is a natural fuel and there is plenty of that in the universe. Of course, electric energy has its advantage also. But the amount of energy – the power you can get – in liquid fuel, namely jet fuel, at this time is at least 20 times and maybe as many as 50 times more than you can get with batteries. Batteries will continue to improve, but for long-endurance airplanes that technology is not here. For advanced air mobility, perhaps it is because those missions are relatively short.”

Q & A Session

Coughlin: What do you see as the next couple of things that the aerospace industry needs to do to take advantage of the 5th generation of composites that’s different from the 4th generation?

Blue: As I mentioned, the primary advantage of the 5th generation is reduction in knock-down factors – knock-down for high humidity and high temperature – and thermoplastics gives you that, potentially up to 20%. That kind of improvement you have to consider if you build airplanes. It’s the combination of innovation that is constantly going on, particularly with composites, because of the inherent physical properties of strength and stiffness that are critical to designing airplanes.

John Busel: You brought up A.I. and smart composites – understanding what’s going on in the system at all times. [The ability to] collect all of that information, read it and record things so you can improve on how the aircraft is performing almost at any moment in time. That’s pretty sophisticated.

Blue: Well, that’s right. And that goes back to A.I. The fact is that computers can analyze all kinds of parameters on a continual basis at a speed far greater than human beings. And that’s good. And A.I. can sort through the noise and important factors you need to look at. So, a combination of A.I. and composites has tremendous potential for improving safety, reducing costs and having better products all the way around.

Coughlin: You talked about if you don’t design with the end material in mind, then you’re not taking full advantage of the composite. So what advice do you have for folks wading into this area and looking at the different options available?

Blue: First of all, have fun! There’s nothing more fun than making better products of all descriptions. But, as I said earlier, you’ve got to combine that with realism. We didn’t even talk about autoclaves and ovens and the potential of new resin systems for processes that are perhaps out-of-autoclave and out-of-oven. And that means lower costs, less time and perhaps better products as a result.