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Have electric aircraft reached the peak of inflated expectations?

November 17th, 2017, by Ben Brelje

It’s common knowledge that most new technologies are overhyped during early development. Technology advisory firm Gartner terms this process the hype cycle and suggests that there are five stages. Sure, it's made up and it's not really a cycle, but we'll go with it:

  1. Technology trigger: Laboratory or theoretical results suggest a promising new area known mostly to topical experts. Industry and the press largely have not picked up the story yet
  2. Peak of inflated expectations: Popular press and industrial leaders learn of the technology and appreciate the potential benefits but not the technical risks and limitations. Some early demonstrators may be revealed as successes; the bugs may not be publicly known.
  3. Trough of disillusionment: Commercial implementations produce mixed results once customers put the technology into use and expose flaws. Major early projects may fail.
  4. Slope of enlightenment: Problems are fixed in second-generation products following in-service experience. Industry begins to change its ways of doing business to take full advantage of the new technology.
  5. Plateau of productivity: The technology becomes mainstream in industry; incremental improvement maximizes performance. 
Where is electric aircraft propulsion in the hype cycle?

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