It is expected that the first demonstration of a hybrid plane will hit the skies by 2020. Airbus, Siemens, and Rolls-Royce are running the E-Fan X program that’s expected to manufacture a BAe 146 aircraft. The aircraft will constitute three jet engines and one electric engine. The development comes after the EU put pressure on the aviation industry. They are to cut down on pollution. A spokesman for the institutions said that the hybrid version is at the moment, the most viable option. A fully electric commercial plane is out of reach. The challenges facing the development of electric engines is the weight of the batteries and cooling equipment.
According to Rolls-Royce, they will avail the electrical generator. The turbine running the generator will, however, use jet fuel. Batteries will store the excess power and utilize it during take-off and landing. They intend to make the system as light as possible by adopting electronic systems.
Reasons for Electrified Planes
Jet fuel makes a significant percentage of the airline’s expenditure. It is estimated to vary from 17-36 percent. Adopting a hybrid engine will go further in reducing the cost of fuel.
Taking –off and landing planes cause a lot of noise pollution. Modern aircrafts are designed to produce less sound. However, they still make a lot of it during take-off and landing. Electric motors are quieter as compared to jet engines. As a result, it will allow for night flights, especially in highly populated towns.
Jet engines produce high amounts of NOx and CO2. Electric engines will cut down on the emissions significantly.
The race for producing the first electric airplane engine began in 2012 with Airbus and Rolls-Royce. The European Union has set standards to be achieved by 2050. The EU wants CO2 emissions cut by 60 percent, nitrogen oxide by 90 percent, and noise pollution by 75 percent. These measures are among the forces driving Airbus, Rolls-Royce, and Siemens in developing the first hybrid plane.