29 November 2017

Rolls-Royce, Airbus and Siemens partner to deliver hybrid electric jets

A new partnership between Rolls-Royce, Airbus and Siemens aims to commission a hybrid electric aircraft prototype by 2020, aspiring to demonstrate that a mix of conventional and electric engines is able to work.

The ‘E-Fan X’ hybrid-electric technology demonstrator will modify the aircraft engine by replacing one of the aircraft’s 4 gas turbine engines with a 2 megawatt (MW) electric motor. If the project is successful, the partnership will replace another gas turbine and add a second 2MW electric motor to increase range. 

                                                                         Source: Airbus

Rolls-Royce will deliver the 2MW generator and the turbo shaft engine. Siemens will construct the 2MW electric motor and Airbus will be responsible for the control architecture of the hybrid-electric propulsion system and the 2MW battery storage system.

Paul Eremenko, Airbus Chief Technology Officer said: “The E-Fan X is an important next step in our goal of making electric flight a reality in the foreseeable future.  We see hydro-electric propulsion as a compelling technology for the future of aviation”.

Roland Busch, Chief Technology Officer at Siemens commented: “By building up electric propulsion for aircraft we are creating new perspectives for our company and also for our customers and society. With the E-Fan X partnership, we now take the next step to demonstrate the technology in the air”.

The partnership believes that the flight demonstrator will be a significant step forward in hybrid propulsion for commercial aircrafts getting closer to revolutionising  the aviation industry.

The objective is to push and mature the technology, performance, safety and reliability enabling quick progress on the hybrid electric technology.

As the aviation industry is increasingly challenged to improve environmental performance and decrease air transport emissions, electric and hybrid-electric propulsion are considered among the most promising technologies fit for purpose.

This September, Easyjet announced a ground-breaking partnership with Wright Electric to develop the first fully electric commercial plane within the next decade. At the beginning of October, Boeing  and JetBlue airways partnered with the Seattle-based start-up Zunum Aero to deliver a hybrid-electric for regional flights by 2022.

Photo credits: Airbus

Roland Busch, Chief Technology Officer at Siemens has talked with Climate Action about Siemen’s contribution to a low-carbon future. Read the full interview here!

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