Hybrid aircraft: Airbus, Siemens and Rolls Royce

The E-Fan X

Completely electric aircraft are still in their infancy, there is no successful aircraft in sight yet. Hybrid aircraft, however? They might be closer than you think. Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Siemens are partnering on a hybrid electric aircraft prototype. The so called ‘E-Fan X’,  will prove the mixture of conventional and electric engines will work. The aircraft will modify a BAe 146 plane by replacing one of its gas turbine engines with a 2MW electric motor, followed by a second if everything goes smoothly. It’s currently slated to fly sometime around in 2020.

The original BAe 146

The trio hopes that the E-Fan X will quickly “mature” tone a hybrid aircraft and lead to a mass commercial single-aisle aircraft. It could be a long while before you’re flying aboard a hybrid jumbo jet. This could lead to short-hop aircraft that consume much less fuel. And that’s bound to be helpful in reducing not just emissions, but running costs as well . Airlines may have a high interest in adopting these vehicles simply because they could improve the bottom line and image; helping the environment would be a nice bonus.

Another model presented by Airbus earlier this year.

Airbus will be responsible for the control architecture of the hybrid-electric propulsion system and batteries, and its integration with flight controls. Rolls-Royce will be responsible for the turbo shaft engine and 2 megawatt generator. While Siemens will deliver the 2 MW electric motor.

These two propulsion system configurations highlight the aircraft’s role as a technology demonstrator that allows the companies to make important advances on its electric aircraft roadmap. This is a key step toward the European Commission’s ‘Flightpath 2050’ environmental protection goals for the air transport industry.

Let’s hope we will get to enjoy flying in one of these noise-less beauties one day near.

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