NASA’s next X-plane, the all-electric X-57 Maxwell, is getting closer to its maiden flight. Engineers at Scaled Composites in Mojave, California, along with prime contractor on the program Empirical Systems Aerospace (ESAero), are preparing to integrate electric systems into a Tecnam P2006T to convert it to the X-57. The first electric version of the aircraft, known as Mod II, will replace the P2006T’s gas-driven Rotax engines with electric motors and a battery pack to power the plane.
Three companies in Europe – Tecnam, BRP-Rotax and Siemens – announced they will lead a project for the development of parallel hybrid powertrains in general aviation.
Funded under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program, the “High Power High Scalability Aircraft Hybrid Powertrain” (H3PS) project has the goal of providing a “foundation for the development, manufacturing and testing of the parallel hybrid propulsion system in general aviation aircraft,” according to the companies. It will be financed by the EU’s European Commission and Innovation & Networks Executive Agency (INEA).
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The project brings together the engineering expertise from Italian light airplane maker Tecnam, German gasoline engine producer BRP-Rotax, and technology firm Siemens, which has been at the forefront of the development of electric propulsion systems for GA aircraft.
Fabio Russo, head of R&D and product development for Tecnam and project manager of H3PS, explained the significance of the project on its website: “Together with other Research and Innovation Actions funded under [the] H2020 umbrella and focused on development of different hybrid configurations, European aircraft and propulsion leaders will play an essential role both on conventional aircraft efficiency growth as well as on future and most innovative configurations,” Russo wrote.
H3PS held a kickoff meeting for the project on May 17 to focus on the status of research, aims of the project and expectations of stakeholders based on project outcome.
The objective of H3PS will be to fly a general aviation aircraft with the hybrid propulsion system to show its advantages and scalability.
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Siemens to provide SP70D motor for the 2-seat Sun Flyer 2.
Bye Aerospace has partnered with Siemens for future development of the company’s Sun Flyer 2. Siemens will provide the electric propulsion motor and inverter for the plane.
“Members of the Siemens team have already been participating in development and certification meetings with the FAA, and we will be making future announcements about progress with the Sun Flyer 2’s flight test program,” George Bye, CEO of Bye Aerospace, said in a press release.
The Sun Flyer family of aircraft, which includes the 2-seat Sun Flyer 2 and 4-seat Sun Flyer 4, intends to be the first FAA-certified, U.S.-sponsored, all-electric airplanes for the flight training and general aviation markets. To accommodate the aircraft’s needs it will be outfitted with the SP70D motor from Siemens with a 90kW peak and a continuous rating of 70kW.
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