Electric plane no pie-in-the-sky idea

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European aircraft maker Airbus has announced plans to develop and test the first commercial hybrid aircraft to be powered partly by electricity.

An artists’ impression of the new E-Fan X hybrid electric aircraft which could help to reduce the global aviation sector’s rapidly-increasing climate gas emissions. The project is a joint venture between Airbus, Rolls Royce and the Siemens technology group. Picture: Airbus

The E-Fan X demonstrator project – which could ultimately help to reduce the global aviation sector’s rapidly increasing greenhouse gas emissions – is a joint venture between Airbus‚ Rolls Royce and the Siemens technology group.

Announcing the plans at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London on Tuesday‚ November 28‚ the three companies said they hoped the hybrid-electric technology demonstrator would be flying in 2020‚ following a comprehensive ground-test campaign‚ provisionally on an existing BAe 146 flying testbed.

Initially‚ only one of the BAe 146 aircraft’s four gas-turbine engines will be replaced by a two-megawatt electric motor.

However‚ plans were in place to replace a second gas-turbine engine with an electric motor once “system maturity” had been proven.

The companies hailed their plan as a “significant step forward in hybrid-electric propulsion for commercial aircraft”.
It follows the first round-the-world flight by an experimental solar-powered electric aeroplane last year.

The Swiss-made solar plane‚ Solar Impulse 2‚ had a wingspan wider than a Boeing 747 and carried more than 17‚000 solar cells on its wings. It crossed both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans‚ using no fossil fuel during its 23 days in the air.

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 hope it will pave the way to a hybrid single-aisle commercial aircraft that is safe‚ efficient and cost-effective. We see hybrid-electric propulsion as a compelling technology for the future of aviation.”

The three companies said the objective was to push and mature the technology to enable quick progress.

Paul Stein‚ Rolls-Royce chief technology officer‚ said: “The E-Fan X enables us to build on our wealth of electrical expertise to revolutionise flight and welcome in the third generation of aviation. This is an exciting time for us‚ as this technological advancement will result in Rolls-Royce creating the world’s most powerful flying generator.”

With the global aviation sector under increasing pressure to curb carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions‚ the three companies said they were committed to meeting the European Union technical environmental goal of reducing aviation carbon dioxide by 60% and nitrogen oxides by 90% before 2050.

By: Tony Carnie – TimesLIVE

Source: TMG Digital.


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