Michael Armstrong, CTO of Electric Power Systems and recognized leader in electrified aircraft propulsion, discusses the unique challenges and opportunities presented by electric aviation and how future aircraft may look much different than those we rely on today.
Like most engineers, Michael Armstrong was first inspired by his high school English class…Wait, that can’t be right? Indeed it is! Since then, Armstrong’s career has taken numerous unexpected twists and turns that include pistachios, designing a PhD program on a napkin, and becoming an unintentional Disney Imagineer.
Electric Power Systems' batteries are powering the eDA40 all-electric airplane. Image used courtesy of Diamond Aircraft
Armstrong got involved in electric aviation long before it was made cool by Uber (yes, Uber). During his distinguished career, he has worked with many company names that we would associate with aviation, including NASA and Rolls-Royce. Armstrong has long been asking the questions: “What does the next aircraft of the future really look like? And, how do technologies like electrification change the way you think about what a good aircraft looks like?”
And now, he is leading efforts to create high voltage, high power, high-reliability battery systems for electric aircraft propulsion. This includes a current program to complete the first flight certification of a battery that will propel the all-electric Diamond Aircraft eDA40.
The technology is amazing, but Armstrong’s stated goal is for “the battery to be the most boring system on the plane.” And that drives his focus on safety and reliability.
JetBlue is one of the investors in Electric Power Systems for aviation battery development. Image used courtesy of Electric Power Systems
Drawing from his career working on electric aviation from full systems down to batteries, Armstrong provides interesting insights on battery technology, electric aviation, and even deciding upon an engineering career path. You will not want to miss this fascinating Moore’s Lobby episode as he discusses:
- How electric propulsion will allow designers to complete reimagine aircraft
- The massively different challenges presented by electric aviation when compared to electric vehicles
- Working on multiple NASA X-plane programs, including the flying harmonica
- Why after delivering a battery, “in some ways your job has just begun.”
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Meet Michael Armstrong
As an industry leader in the field of hybrid-electric and distributed electric propulsion systems, Mike has led efforts in developing lightweight, certifiable battery technologies and innovative battery-based integrated propulsion systems. He is currently the Chief Technical Officer of Electric Power Systems, one of the leaders in battery technology development for electric aviation.
Before joining Electric Power Systems, Mike worked as the head of the hybrid propulsion group at Rolls-Royce LibertyWorks. He has been involved in multiple electrified aircraft propulsion programs and the principal investigator on electrified aircraft propulsion systems concept programs.
Mike is active in the broader electric aviation industry, including participation on SAE’s Electric Aircraft Steering Group and AIAA’s Aircraft Electric Propulsion and Power Working Group.
He has also authored over 25 publications in the areas of systems engineering and aircraft electric propulsion and is an inventor with over 20 filed patents. He was awarded SAE’s Charles M. Manly Memorial Medal and Rolls-Royce’s prestigious Sir Henry Royce Award.
Mike holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Brigham Young University and a master’s and Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.