Archive for Hardware

Apple Blames China In Revenue Warning To Investors

On 2nd January, Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, issued a revenue warning for this quarter to investors, and pointed to challenges in China as being one of the main downward driving forces.

Letter

Bearing in mind that Apple is one of America’s (and the world’s) tech giants, and that it became the world’s first trillion-dollar public company back in August 2018, it has been somewhat of a surprise to hear that its share price has tumbled more than 20% since October, and that the company has now sent a revenue warning letter to its investors revising down its expected earnings for this quarter. In the letter, Mr Cook pointed to the unforeseen “magnitude of the economic deceleration, particularly in Greater China” as one key reason why a previously predicted rise in revenue had now turned into warnings of a fall in revenue.

What’s The Problem?

Tech market analysts and commentators have cited several reasons for Apple’s woes and the link to the Chinese market, including:

  • Apple needs new iPhone sales, but a lack of technological advances in the iPhone since iPhone 8, combined with a hike in the price of iPhones at a time of global economic pressures on consumers have meant a fall in sales.
  • Some competing Android phones may simply be more interesting and offer better value in terms of price / features e.g. Google Pixel, Oppo’s X, OnePlus 6, or the Huawei P20 Pro.
  • Apple relies heavily on phone sales in the Chinese market (Apple makes a massive 20% of its revenue in the Greater China region) but has faced very stiff competition there from the likes of Huawei, Xiaomi, and Oppo with their high value, lower priced phones.
  • Trade war talk and tensions between the U.S. and China have put more downward pressure on Apple phone sales in China.  For example, the detention of a senior Huawei executive caused a patriotism-fuelled backlash against Apple’s phones in China.
  • Apple investors are worried about iPhone sales generally, which have clearly been in decline since the iPhone 8.
  • Apple investors have concerns and questions about how other Apple services will be developed as revenue generators e.g. ApplePay, Apple Music, the App store, plans for television and movies, and goals for competing in the health industry.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Apple products and services are known for their quality, reliability, ease of use, and useful features, and many UK businesses / business people will continue to use them. It is difficult to deny, however, that many new Android phone models, such as those from Huawei or Samsung, offer UK buyers great value for money and useful features compared to Apple’s relatively high-priced alternative. This, combined with Apple’s reliance on getting a large part of its revenue in a country (China) where it is facing stiff competition and trade-war pressures are contributing to a challenging time for Apple.

It is, however, worth remembering that Apple is a trillion-dollar tech giant and is better placed than most to weather any storms and find ways to develop new opportunities and revenue streams.

Drone Laws Promised After Airport Chaos

The chaos caused to flights from Gatwick just before Christmas (and latterly, Heathrow) by drone sightings near the airports has prompted Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, to announce new counter-drone measures to be taken to protect UK airports.

Increased Exclusion Zone

Mr Grayling, speaking in the House of Commons as the government published its response to its consultation on the future of drones in the UK, and in the wake of the three-day shutdown of Gatwick by unauthorised drone activity in December, announced that the UK government would increase drone exclusion zones around airports from 1km to 5km, and further from the ends of runways.

New Technology

Following the three-day Gatwick (1000+ flight cancellations) issue that caused a national outcry, disrupted the travel plans of 140,000 people, and may have cost the airport more than £120 million, it has reported that Gatwick has spent £5m on anti-drone equipment. The equipment, which uses advanced technology, is believed to be of the same level as was originally supplied for the armed forces.

Heathrow (the world’s busiest airport) is also reported to have invested in anti- drone technology, although it appears unlikely that this is fully operational as the north runway was forced to close for an hour on Tuesday 8th January after reports of possible (unconfirmed) drone sightings in the area.

New Laws Too

Part of the anti-drone measures will include new laws that could see drone users who break the rules being fined or jailed, and police being granted new powers e.g. to be able to ‘down’ drones in certain restricted areas.

Also, from November this year, operators of drones weighing between 250g and 20kg will have to register their drones and take an online safety test.

Big Problem

The problems caused by drones are not limited to just a few prominent incidents. In fact, 117 near misses between manned aircraft and drones were recorded up to November in 2018.

Gatwick was also the scene of a near miss with a drone last summer that put 130 lives at risk, and the airport was also closed for around 20 minutes back in 2017 due to drone activity nearby.

Other Countries – Drones Also A Problem

The UK is by no means the only country suffering problems caused by drones being flown near airports / in the path of aircraft.  For example, back in 2017 a remotely piloted drone struck a Skyjet turboprop passenger plane as it made its approach to land at Jean Lesage Airport in Quebec, Canada, flying at a height of about 450 metres / 1,500 feet and at an estimated 3,000 metres from the runway at the airport. Thankfully, only minor damage was caused to the aircraft which was carrying 8 passengers and was able to land safely.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Drones are part of a new industry where the technology and products have been developing before the law has had an opportunity to catch up. Drones clearly have many productive, value-adding, and innovative business uses, and they have been tested and tipped for wider use by brands such as Amazon for parcel deliveries. A move towards autonomous vehicles and new transport technologies means that drones currently have a bright future when used responsibly and professionally. The fact that drones are widely and easily available (with minimal restrictions) to individuals as well as companies, as shown by the many aircraft near misses, and the huge disruption and cost of incidents such as the one at Gatwick in December 2018, indicate that most people would now welcome the introduction of regulations and the investment in technology that contribute to public safety. It is important, however, that any new laws take account of the rights of the majority of responsible drone users, and don’t restrict the commercial potential of drones.

Concerns Over Huawei and ZTE Equipment and Software

A statement from the Czech National Cyber and Information Security Agency (NCISA) has warned network operators that using software or hardware made by Chinese telecom equipment suppliers Huawei and ZTE could represent a security threat.

Why?

Huawei, which the world’s biggest producer of telecoms equipment, is based in China, and according to the NCISA, private companies residing in China are required by law to cooperate with intelligence services.  This could mean that the products and services of those companies could, in theory, become part of the Chinese state security systems e.g. Huawei and ZTE could be used for spying on behalf of China.

Global Suspicion & Action

According to the Wall Street Journal, espionage chiefs from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K. and the U.S. (the so-called ‘Five-Eyes’), agreed at a meeting in July this year to try to contain the global growth of Chinese telecom Huawei because of the threat that it could be spying for China.

The US, Australia and New Zealand have barred Huawei Technologies Ltd. as a supplier for fifth-generation networks, and Japan also looks set to ban government purchases of equipment from Huawei and ZTE.

The U.S. government is also reported to have been putting pressure on Deutsche Telekom, the majority owner of T-Mobile US, to stop using Huawei equipment, although the head of Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) Arne Schoenbohm is reported to have told German news outlet Der Spiegel that proof is required to substantiate the accusations.

Detained

Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei, was recently detained in Vancouver at the request of U.S. authorities for violating US sanctions on Iran. The arrest of Meng Wanzhou happened on the same night that President Trump was dining with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the G20 summit in Argentina.  China’s state-run media, and some other commentators have suggested that Meng’s detention appears to be politically or economically motivated.

Response

The response by a Huawei spokesperson to the NCISA warning has been to deny any suggestion that a national security threat is posed by Huawei to the Czech Republic, and to call for NCISA to provide proof of its claims.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

If the ‘Five-Eyes’ are to be believed, Huawei’s products and network software could have backdoors built-in to them which could, in theory, allow covert surveillance or control, or destruction of phone networks (which are accessible via the internet).  The fear is that those acting for the Chinese state could gain access to the data stored / routed through Huawei devices, telecoms equipment and software, and could even, perhaps, monitor the conversations on mobile phones.

There does, however, appear to be a lack of clear proof for the allegations, and bearing in mind that Huawei is the world’s biggest producer of telecoms equipment, and that its products are popular (this year it overtook Apple in terms of the number of handsets it was shipping worldwide) and that UK stores are still stocking and selling its handsets, the warnings of various governments look unlikely to be heeded for now.  It is worth noting that BT uses Huawei systems as part of its network, but is now is removing Huawei systems from the core of the mobile network EE, which it purchased in 2016.

The advice as part of the recent Czech warning is that system administrators in critical information infrastructure should take ‘adequate measures’ against the threat.  This advice appears a little vague, and until conclusive proof can be produced, many people and businesses will feel that they can decide for themselves what, if any, action to take.

Warnings of Printer Chip-Frying

Swedish YouTube vlogger, PewDiePie, is reported to have inspired some of his 77 million followers to hack 50,000 printers to promote his YouTube channel, and to draw attention to vulnerabilities in their printer firmware that could even be exploited by hackers to ‘fry’ a printer chip.

Messages Sent Through Printers

The vlogger, PewDiePie, primarily wanted to make a point that popular printer firmware has vulnerabilities in it that could leave people open to hacks that could disable and even permanently damage their printer. Also, there is the risk that a printer hack could enable attackers to see and alter potentially sensitive information as it’s printed out.

Thankfully for printer owners, the chosen method of raising awareness by some followers of PewDiePie was to send messages through their printers.  The messages, in this case, asked people to subscribe to PewDiePie’s YouTube channel and asked them to unsubscribe from a rival channel called T-Series.

Could ‘Fry’ The Printer Chip

According to PewDiePie, one of the most alarming risks that people could face thanks to vulnerabilities in the printer firmware is hackers forcing a stream of data to be continuously written by the printer’s chips. Since the chips only have a limited lifespan of ‘writes’, keeping them on such a continuous loop for long enough could overload and ‘fry’ the printer chip, thereby stopping the printer from working altogether.  This would most likely require the victim to purchase a new printer.

Unsubstantiated

Although it has been claimed that followers of PewDiePie have caused 100,000 machines to print out the message, this figure has not been verified, and currently, there is only anecdotal evidence in the form of some Twitter posts from alleged victims in the UK, US, South America, Spain and Australia.  There have, thankfully, been no reports of any printer chips being fried as yet.

Example

One example of how printers can be compromised dates from early 2017 when a hacker named Stackoverflowin was able to take control of more than 150,000 printers manufactured by HP, Brother, Epson, Canon, Lexmark and Minolta, and ordered them to print out a message.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

This may be a publicity stunt by a YouTube vlogger that is likely to expand the number of his followers, but it appears to have had a serious point about a security vulnerability that could affect your business or home printer. Back in August, for example, it was discovered that hundreds of HP inkjet printer models were in desperate need of firmware patches, and this latest stunt may help to prompt enough questions from printer owners to motivate printer manufacturers to take another look at their firmware, and for printer owners to seek out patches that may already be in existence.

SIM Swap Scam Warning

A recent investigation by BBC TV’s Watchdog Live revealed evidence that some mobile phone shop staff are not conducting proper ID checks for replacement SIM requests, thereby enabling some customers to become victims of SIM swap scams.

What is a SIM Swap Scam?

SIM swap scams are believed to have been in existence for the last four years in one form or another.  In its current form, the SIM swap scan happens when a fraudster goes into a mobile operator’s shop and claims a false identity i.e. the identity of one of that operator’s customers.  The fraudster knows that the person they are claiming to be is a customer of that operator because of personal details that have been stolen in previous malware or cyber-attacks, and those details have been posted or sold on the dark web.

In the shop, while pretending to be that customer, the fraudster claims that their phone has been lost or stolen and asks to be issued with a replacement SIM. Once the fraudster has the replacement SIM, the victim’s SIM no longer works, and the fraudster can then access any online service that requires security codes to be sent to the phone, as well as being able to access any other of the victim’s personal details that are stored on the SIM.

In the past (London 2016), a similar version of the scam worked when fraudsters used an intercepted bank statement from the victim (or information found on social media) to call the person’s mobile operator, pass security checks, and get a blank SIM card.  The fraudsters were then able to access the unique codes sent by the victim’s bank to log into their account and transfer funds.

What Should Happen When Someone Requests a Replacement SIM?

At the moment, mobile operators should conduct i.d. checks for replacement SIMs, but it is not compulsory.  Also, the Watchdog Live investigation revealed that checks for contract customers and Pay As You Go customers may differ.  For example, O2 said that it only asks for photo ID when replacing SIMs on monthly contracts, and that Pay As You Go customers will be sent an authorisation code if someone is trying to access the number.

What Happened in Reality?

In the investigation, which involved the secret filming of Watchdog Live’s own ‘King Con’ former fraudster in multiple EE, O2, Three and Vodafone stores, EE and Three staff conducted all the necessary checks, but Vodafone blamed rogue employees for not doing so.  Also, replacement SIMs were obtained from O2 stores and the authorisation codes that the company says it sends out were not received.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

It appears that this relatively old fraud is still very much alive and is a reminder of how valuable our personal details can be to criminals. Bearing in mind how serious this fraud can be to the victims, it is shocking that photo ID checks for replacement SIMs are not made to be compulsory for all operators in all situations.  Mobile operators could help themselves and customers by introducing compulsory measures and by making sure through training and in-built systems that all staff conduct satisfactory checks.

It is also worrying that the investigation appears to have revealed a two-tiered security system, with Pay As You Go customers afforded less protection.

In the meantime, one way that we can help ourselves is to regularly check both our phone and bank statements, and if you have a contract with e.g. O2, contact them to confirm that no replacement SIMs have been issued in your name.

Make Skype Calls Through Your Amazon Echo

On Monday, the Microsoft Skype blog announced that Skype calling is now available on Amazon Alexa devices using a simple voice command and that Alexa customers can now call most landlines and mobiles internationally using Skype, as well as benefitting from 200 free minutes of Skype to call 34 countries.

Can Already Make Calls

Many Amazon Echo / Echo Plus and Echo Dot users may already be used to making calls via their Echo. Last year, Alexa-to-Alexa calls from compatible devices were enabled e.g. calling another Echo from your Echo by saying “Call (John’s) Echo”.  Also, Echo Connect combined with a user’s landline or VoIP service has enabled compatible Echo devices to call any number supported by a user’s home phone service provider e.g. contacts by name, specific mobile numbers, and by saying the individual digits of a full phone number.

How To Set Up Skype Calls On Your Alexa Device

Amazon Echo users can set up Skype calling by :

– Opening the Amazon Alexa app (the same one used to set up the Echo in the first place)

– Going to ‘Settings > Communication > Skype’

– Signing-in using the same account used for Skype

How To Make A Call Via Skype

According to the Microsoft Skype blog, once Skype has been set up on the Amazon Echo, (using an example) making a completely hands-free call should be simply a case of saying, “Alexa, call Mum on Skype.”

The new Skype call service via the Echo is being rolled out in the U.S, U.K., Ireland, Canada, India, Australia, and New Zealand.  The addition of the new feature is also being supported by a price drop in the Echo.

Video Calls With Echo Show / Spot Display-Based

The hook up with Skype also means that although speaker-only Echo devices can only make audio Skype calls, an Echo Show or Echo Spot display-based device should be able to make video calls using Skype.

It should also now be possible to make Skype calls via the Echo to other Skype-enabled devices e.g.  PCs, smartphones, or even an Xbox One console. SkypeOut also means that calls can be made to mobile and landline numbers.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Amazon is already the market leader (41% market share) of global smart speaker shipments, ahead of Google at 28% (Strategy Analytics data).  There is fierce competition in the huge and growing smart speaker market e.g. one-quarter to one-third of the U.S. population already owns a smart speaker, and the global number of installed smart speakers may more than double to 225 million units in two years (Canalys).  Amazon is trying to make its smart speakers as ubiquitous as possible e.g. at home, at work and in the car, and adding feature like this may make it even more attractive to customers, particularly at the season where sales are likely to be high, and where sales are already being supported by a price drop for Echo devices.  More sales of Amazon Echo devices could also mean that voice shopping on Alexa could potentially generate more $5 billion+ per year in revenue by 2020.

For users of Amazon’s Alexa smart speaker devices, the promise of easy, hands-free Skype calls could be another value-adding feature to tempt them to buy an Amazon smart speaker instead of others such as Sonos, or Google Home.

Apple Offers Free Repairs For iPhone X and MacBook Problems

Apple Inc. is reported to be offering free repairs / replacements for problems relating to screen touch issues on the iPhone X and data loss and storage drive failures in 13-inch MacBook Pro computers.

iPhone X Problems

The offer of free fixes in the iPhone X handset, which was only released last November and was superseded by the iPhone XS (and XR) in September, relate to user complaints that that their phones were making unprompted, random clicking noises, or simply stopped responding. Apple has put the problems of intermittently not responding / reacting when it wasn’t touched down to problems with a display module component on the £999 iPhone X handset.  As such, Apple has said that customers are entitled to a free screen replacement, and that any customers who have already paid for the replacement can have refund.

MacBook Pro Problems

In the case of 13-inch MacBook Pro computers sold between June 2017 and June 2018, Apple has acknowledged that there was a problem with a limited number of 128GB and 256GB solid-state drives which may have led to data loss and failure of those storage drives.  Apple has said on its website that Apple or an Apple Authorised Service Provider (AASP) will service any affected drives, free of charge, that Apple recommends having any affected drives serviced as soon as possible, and that Apple will send an email to customers who registered their device with the company.   More information about this issue can be found here: https://www.apple.com/support/13-inch-macbook-pro-solid-state-drive-service-program/

Keyboard Replacements Back In June

It was only back in June this year that Apple offered free repairs or replacements for the butterfly keyboard on its MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops after some users complained about letters or characters repeating unexpectedly, letters or characters not appearing, and keys feeling ‘sticky’ or not responding in a consistent manner.

Battery Woes

You may also remember the publicity Back in 2017 when Apple apologised for intentionally slowing down older iPhones (Phone 6, iPhone 6s, iPhone SE and iPhone 7 models), perhaps with a view to encouraging upgrades.  Also, Apple made the news earlier this year when leaking vapours from damaged iPad batteries relating to small-scale problems with the iPhone battery replacement programme caused some stores to be temporarily evacuated.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Apple’s iPhone X only lasted a year, even though it was replaced by a handset that wasn’t too different from it (on the surface). At least only a sample of one-year’s-worth of buyers are likely to need the replacement / repair service.  It’s good that Apple is offering the repair / replacement for what is a relatively expensive product for many people, and this may go some way to maintaining generally positive perceptions of (and trust in) Apple and help to re-build trust after the battery-slowing admission.  Similarly, offering to repair the problems with some 13-inch MacBook Pros sends a positive message that will benefit Apple as well as those affected.  The tech giant is also likely to be conscious that it is about to re-introduce old favourites like the iPad Pro and Mac Book with new features and higher prices to match, so eliminating problems and clearing the way with some goodwill and good publicity can’t be a bad thing.

Fatal Security Flaws Discovered in Solid State Drives (SSDs)

Researchers from Radboud University in the Netherlands have released a paper highlighting several security flaws that they’ve discovered in SSDs which mean that data from a flash disk can recovered in more than one way, even if it’s supposedly self-encrypted.

What Is An SSD?

An SSD is a solid-state storage device that uses integrated circuit assemblies (memory chips on a circuit board with and In/Out interface to feed power and transfer data) as memory to store data persistently. Even though it doesn’t actually contain a physical disk, it is sometimes called a called solid-state disk.

Hardware Encryption Not Better Than Software Encryption

Whereas the popular belief is that AES encryption should stop you from accessing data on a disc that isn’t plugged in to its home system (encryption with SSD through ATA security and TCG Opal encryption methods) and that hardware encryption is similar to or better than software encryption, the findings of the research appear to disprove this.

Not Just Cheap Drives Vulnerable

The research looked at top-of-the-range drives including models by Crucial and Samsung, and found that only the T3 and T5 (external) drives remained secure, whereas the others were found to have fatal vulnerabilities, some to non-cryptographic hacking. Even BitLocker, the Microsoft encryption with each copy of Windows was found to be vulnerable. According to the research, vulnerabilities are such, across the range of vendors, that determined attackers could access data in many so-called encrypted drives without any keys or passwords.

Vulnerable to a Range Attack Methods

Through the reverse-engineering of the firmware of a sample of SSDs, the researchers were able to discover a number of vulnerabilities in self-encrypting SSDs that can leave them open to a range of attacks and exploits. These could include attackers seizing full control of the CPU, corrupting memory, and cracking default passwords, thereby bypassing a custom password set by a user.

Example

The researchers provided a case study of how an attacker could try to breach a locked Crucial MX300 drive with encryption via TCG Opal. The case study outlines how an attacker could install modified firmware that includes read/write capabilities, and then, if encryption is performed via TCG Opal, write executable code to bypass several layers of security, and thereby access the precious data.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

The discovery by the researchers shows that hardware-based encryption is far less secure than businesses may have thought and that hardware-based full-disk encryption may not, in fact, be a more secure alternative to software-based methods. Also, it seems that the security flaws are in leading products across multiple vendors.

Businesses may, therefore, be best advised not to rely solely on hardware encryption as offered by SSDs for confidentiality. In fact, it may be better to also employ an open source, audited, software full-disk encryption solution.

As well as alerting businesses to the risks of relying solely on the apparently flawed hardware encryption offered by SSDs, this story should surely make vendors take another close look at their SSD products and how the security of them can be improved.

Blurring of Personal and Business Technology Cause For Concern

A report by CCS Insight showing how three-quarters of employees are forced to install work software on their personal mobile devices has highlighted how the increased blurring of personal and business technology is causing concern.

Objections

The report, which took into account the views of 672 employees across the US and Western Europe about digital technology, revealed how, among many other concerns, workers object to the practice of having to download work-based applications onto their personal mobile devices just so that they can carry out their jobs. As well as the understandable objection to feeling forced to blur work and home life by having to install intrusive work software on a personal device, employees also objected to the practice out of fear that their employers could use the software to track them.

Poor Connectivity

Another major annoyance indicated by workers who took part in the survey was poor connectivity in the digital workplace.

WhatsApp Popularity

Despite highlighting poor connectivity at work as a major grumble for workers, it appears that it hasn’t stopped them from using always-on, connected apps. For example, the report revealed that WhatsApp is now the most widely used mobile app in businesses, even beating out Microsoft Office 365. WhatsApp, however, is likely to be something that workers will have on their phone anyway, and its end-to-end encryption means that workers don’t have to fear any kind of tracking by the boss through its use.

Other Concerns

Other employee concerns highlighted by the report include:

  • The fear that their job may be lost to AI. This concern was expressed despite half of the employees surveyed saying that they expect digital assistants such as Google Assistant to help them in their job.
  • Only two-thirds of employees saying that they trust their employers with their privacy.
  • A mistrust of tech giant companies, although Microsoft was shown to be more trusted than most.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

The fact that many employees have high spec mobile devices and access to apps that could be used by the company, and the fact that ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) schemes are commonplace, doesn’t appear to make employees feel comfortable about having to download work-based apps. Employees may be justified in feeling that they shouldn’t feel pressured into having to employ their personal devices for work tasks, and that employers shouldn’t rely so heavily upon the personal devices of employees instead of providing their own, and that respecting the barrier between work and home life is important. By the same token, employers who allow workers to use their own devices at work may also expect employees to be respectful in terms of how much time they spend dealing with personal matters during work time on their devices.

Workers may be justified in worrying about the impact of AI on their jobs in the future, and connectivity problems are a known source of work stress, particularly in the case of mobile workers.

When it comes to the mistrust of tech giants, this seems reasonable considering the number of high profile reports of data breaches and unauthorised data sharing in recent times (e.g. Facebook and Cambridge Analytica).

Easyjet – Electric Planes By 2030

Easyjet is reported to have backed plans to develop and introduce commercial passenger aircraft powered by electric batteries on its short-haul routes, possibly by 2030.

Prototype

A prototype battery-powered, electric aircraft with a range of 335 miles is already being built by one-year-old US company Wright Electric, the same company that Europe’s no.2 low-cost airline Ryanair has been working in partnership with.

Wright Electric’s prototype is reported to be a nine-seater plane, although its CEO Jeff Engler, is reported as saying that the company is also starting work on a 50-seat version. Wright Electric estimates that an electric aircraft of this kind could reduce the energy costs of a plane by around 30%, and that its 9-seater prototype could be ready for testing by next year.

Easyjet & Wright

Easyjet’s involvement with Wright Electric is thought to date back to May last year when discussions were held with the start-up after it announced its intentions to offer an electric-powered commercial flight from London to Paris in 10 years. Easyjet is reported not to have invested money in Wright, but its validation and support of Wright’s work appears to be a considerable driver in the development of the new type of aircraft.

New Battery Technology = New Aircraft Design

It has been reported that new energy technology that could contribute to lighter batteries will need to be developed to make the development of electric aircraft successful. These new batteries could then be used to power the propellers or fans of aeroplane engines, meaning that motors could then be put inside a plane’s wings, rather than be slung underneath them.

Advantages of Battery-Powered, Electric Aircraft

The advantages of battery-powered, electric aircraft over current aircraft would be huge cost savings (no expensive oil-based fuel required), quieter planes that are also more environmentally friendly (no fuel emissions), more aerodynamic planes with less drag (with motors inside the wings rather than outside), and a more sustainable aviation industry.

Others Working On Electric Planes

Wright Electric is not the only company working on developing battery-powered, electric aircraft. For example, Zunum, backed by Boeing Co, is also reported to be working on an engine turbine from France’s Safran SA to power an electric motor for a hybrid plane, and Siemens is reported to have been working on developing electric motors for aircraft in collaboration with Airbus.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

For the aircraft industry, the development of battery-powered, electric aircraft could be an important new development with positive benefits. For example, airlines using these aircraft could save money, tackle pollution (noise and emissions), and publicise the environmental benefits to customers as a differentiating competitive advantage that could have positive rub-off value on the aircraft brand. Quieter, cleaner planes could also help airports to reduce their environmental impact, and could provide a feel-good factor to customers.

There are clearly many technological challenges to be overcome first, hence the estimate of at least 10 years development time, but it is exciting and promising to think that planes are going the same way as cars in terms of harnessing new battery / electric technologies and creating more sustainable, lower environmental impact transport for the future. In reality, it seems likely that hybrid versions of commercial aircraft rather than full battery-powered, electric aircraft will be the first to be introduced.
The new technologies developed along the way to producing battery-powered, electric aircraft will, in themselves, also create many new engineering and business opportunities.