Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Siemens are developing a flight demonstrator which will be a significant step forward in hybrid-electric propulsion for commercial aircraft. The ‘E-fan X’ hybrid-electric technology demonstrator is anticipated to fly in 2020 following a ground test campaign, with one of the aircraft’s four gas turbine engines replaced by a two megawatt electric motor. The partnership intends to replace a second gas turbine with an electric motor once maturity has been proven.
As part of the ‘E-fan X’ programme, each company contribute with their extensive experience and know-how in their respective fields of expertise. 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. 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.
Among the top challenges for today’s aviation sector is to move towards a means of transport with improved environmental performance, that is more efficient and less reliant on fossil fuels. The partners are committed to meeting the EU technical environmental goals of the european commission’s flightpath 2050 vision for aviation (reduction of CO2 by 75%, reduction of NOx by 90% and noise reduction by 65%).