Toulouse-based aircraft manufacturer Airbus is one step closer to building the “more electric aircraft”. It has unveiled an unprecedented partnership with the Rolls-Royce engine manufacturer as well as with the German giant Siemens, to develop a hybrid-powered aircraft named E-Fan X.
In the short term, this collaboration between three world experts in electric and propulsion technologies aims at developing a flight demonstrator, which will be a significant step forward in hybrid-electric propulsion for commercial aircraft.
E-Fan X’s first flight is already planned for the year 2020 after comprehensive ground testing provisionally based on the BAe146, a hundred-seat plane. Concretely, one of the four jet engines will be replaced by a two megawatt electric motor. Subsequently, a second turbine will be replaced by an electric motor once system maturity has been proven.
The three partners will work at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London and contribute their respective experience and know-how for the successful completion of the E-Fan X project:
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 adapting the fan to the existing nacelle and the Siemens electric motor. Finally, 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.