Airbus, Rolls-Royce, and Siemens have announced a new partnership to develop a hybrid-electric propulsion technology flight demonstrator for commercial aircraft.
The E-Fan X hybrid-electric technology demonstrator is anticipated to fly in 2020 following a ground test campaign, provisionally on a BAe 146 flying testbed, with one of the aircraft’s four gas turbine engines replaced by a two-megawatt electric motor. Provisions will be made to replace a second gas turbine with an electric motor once system maturity has been proven, the companies said in a press statement Tuesday.
The E-Fan X demonstrator will explore the challenges of high-power propulsion systems, such as thermal effects, electric thrust management, altitude and dynamic effects on electric systems and electromagnetic compatibility issues.
The programme also aims at establishing the requirements for future certification of electrically powered aircraft while training a new generation of designers and engineers to bring hybrid-electric commercial aircraft one step closer to reality.
Airbus will be responsible for overall integration as well as 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, two-megawatt generator, and power electronics. Along with Airbus, Rolls-Royce will also work on the fan adaptation to the existing nacelle and the Siemens electric motor.
Siemens will deliver the two-megawatt electric motors and their power electronic control unit, as well as the inverter, DC/DC converter, and power distribution system.