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Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Siemens to develop hybrid plane

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Peggy Hollinger, Industry Editor, FT

Collaboration aims to have a part-electric test aircraft in the air by 2020

Tests will be carried out on a BAE146 with one of the four turbines replaced by a two megawatt electric motor

Hybrid plane.JPG

Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Siemens have announced plans to collaborate on a hybrid test aircraft that will fly by 2020.

The companies have formed a partnership to build a technology demonstrator with an electric motor that will help during take-off and the climb to cruising altitude. They aim to have a commercially viable hybrid regional passenger jet flying by the 2030s.

A growing number of companies are exploring the potential of hybrid power in aviation. Boeing last month acquired Aurora Flight Sciences, a cutting edge US aviation research company. Boeing has also taken a stake in Washington-based aerospace start-up Zunum as it steps up its pursuit of autonomous and electrically powered flight. Zunum aims to have a 10-12 seater all electrically powered aircraft flying by 2022 and to eventually scale up to 50-100 seaters by 2030.

Roland Berger, the management consultancy, estimates that 70 electrical propulsion aircraft programmes have been launched globally, about half by start-ups.

The partnership announced on Tuesday will focus on developing an aircraft capable of carrying 50-100 passengers. The tests will be carried out on a BAe146 regional aircraft and one of the four turbines will be replaced by a two megawatt electric motor.

“This is the first concrete step to prove what is possible,” said Mark Cousin, Airbus head of group demonstrators. He estimated that the fuel savings of hybrid propulsion would be “into the double digits”.

While hybrid-electric cars are becoming increasingly commonplace on roads, adoption of the technology in aviation has been held back by the weight and power density of batteries.

Frank Anton, Siemens vice-president of eAircraft, said this hurdle could be cleared in a relatively short time as battery technology is developing exponentially in response to demand from the auto sector.

“We will have to get 10 times more power out of the same weight,” he said. “This is our homework. But we believe we can get there.”

The pressure is on aviation to deliver cleaner propulsion. The industry accounts for 2 per cent of global man-made carbon dioxide emissions, but this is expected to triple by 2050 as demand for air travel accelerates. The number of passengers is forecast to double in the next 20 years alone.

Electrically powered aircraft would help reduce the noise and emissions pollution from this growth.

The partners are hoping to win UK funding for the project, although they refused to quantify the cost.

Airbus, Siemens and Rolls-Royce are initially targeting the regional travel market for their hybrid aircraft.

Paul Stein, chief technology officer of Rolls-Royce, said quieter and cleaner hybrid-electric power would allow airports to be sited more closely to urban areas. “It has the potential to move transport from rail to air, and gives the opportunity to connect any city pairs,” he said.


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Il y a 11 heures, jesseps a dit :

I am waiting for a plane to be powered by a nuclear reactor.

Since we are on the topic of large vehicles, that will be using an alternative source of energy. The Tesla semi supposedly will need 4000 homes worth of energy to recharge. 

Financial Times

Ça a déjà été fait dans les années 50. Voir Tu-95LAL (URSS) et NB-36H (États-Unis).



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