We won't be flying in electric planes for at least 15 years, says industry expert

Harris named several established aerospace players who are ready to jump into one or all of these three emerging technologies.

“Everyone’s playing catch up in the legacy aerospace,” Harris said, adding that General Electric and Pratt & Whitney “see this as the future.”

UBS tacks on several more suppliers, saying both Rockwell Collins and Honeywell are also poised to benefit from advancements in autonomous technology.

Another giant, Airbus, claims its quadrotor flying taxi is on track to make its first flight by the end of 2018, with plans to start flying the craft in cities by 2023.

“The vast amount of investment in these areas is taking place outside of the traditional aerospace areas,” Harris said. “This industry is going to see a lot more investment, and a lot of M&A activity, over the coming years.”

Harris warns that, regardless of the resources behind these projects, the first-generation projects probably aren’t going to change aviation. Progress is more likely to come through applying these technology advances to legacy aircraft.

“That will change how Americans, and people globally, get around,” Harris said.

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