Airbus, Siemens and Rolls Royce announce a hybrid airplane ready to take-off in 2020, thus bringing the dream of electric flying in close proximity. The E-Fan X will fly regional routes first and serve to propel electric aviation.
A partnership involving Airbus, Siemens, and Rolly Royce is very likely to bear fruits and so it is hardly a surprise to hear that we may fly electrically (partially) before the end of the decade.
The E-Fan X has been in the making since Airbus and Siemens teamed up in 2016 for their ‘E-Aircraft Systems House’ collaboration that is on-going and involves all sorts of electric aircrafts. While the E-Fan had been initially conceived as a pure electric plane, the X stands for Airbus switching strategy and to start with hybrid propulsion first.
The E-Fan X uses the BAe 146 flying testbed as its base. Enter Siemens who had successfully managed an electric maiden flight (we reported) and thus equips the E-Fan X with a working 2 MW electric motor. It replaces one of four turbines but once testing proves successful, another turbine will be electrified, thus forming a truly hybrid aircraft that is more than a testbed. Instead, it is designed to carry up to 100 passengers – in the future.
For now, the E-Fan X will serve as demonstrator and to forebode what Paul Stein, Rolls-Royce, Chief Technology Officer calls “the third generation of aviation.” In this partnership, the British 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.