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Manufacturers co-operate on hybrid plane technology
E-Fan © Bernd Sieker

Manufacturers co-operate on hybrid plane technology


Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Siemens are to jointly develop hybrid electric engine plane technology as part of a push towards cleaner aviation.

The companies aim to fly a demonstrator version of the plane by 2020, with a commercial application by 2030.

The E-Fan X programme will first put an electric engine with three jet engines on a BAe 146 aircraft. The developments in hybrid electric planes come after pressure from the EU to cut aviation pollution.

Each of the partners in the programme will be investing in the plane and are developing the technology because fully electric commercial flights are currently out of reach.

The weight of batteries coupled with the weight of equipment to cool electric engines are two limiting factors at present.

Paul Eremenko, Airbus’ chief technology officer said: “We see hybrid-electric propulsion as a compelling technology for the future of aviation.”

Rolls-Royce will be providing the electricity generator at the back of the E-Fan X plane.

The turbine powering the generator will run on jet fuel and provide power for the electric engine.

Any excess power from the generator will be stored in banks of batteries in the fore and aft holds with the stored energy to be used during take-off and landing.

The E-Fan programme began in 2012 with a collaboration between Airbus and Rolls-Royce.

As part of its Flightpath 2050 plan, the European Commission wants a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by 60%, it wants nitrogen oxide pollution down by 90%, and noise reduction of 75%.

Commercial airline companies such as EasyJet are also working on commercial passenger electric flight.

Pan European Networks Ltd