E-Fan X is a hybrid-electric flight demonstrator aircraft being developed by Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Siemens(Credit: Airbus)

Airbus, Siemens, and Rolls-Royce are teaming up to design and build a hybrid-electric flight demonstrator.

The project is called ‘E-Fan X’ and the intention is that a prototype will be completed by 2020.

Prior to that, provisional field-based testing will be carried out on a British Aerospace 146, a hundred-seat plan for domestic travel and shorter distances.

“We see hybrid-electric propulsion as a compelling technology for the future of aviation.”

– Said Paul Eremenko, Airbus Technical Officer

A British Aerospace 146 four turbocharged engines. First of all, one of the engines’ gas turbines should be replaced by an electric motor of two megawatts. When the maturity of the system has evolved, the same should be done on one of the engines.

Airbus will be responsible for the control architecture of the hybrid electric propulsion system and for the batteries. Rolls-Royce is responsible for the two-megawatt generators. Siemens will deliver the two-megawatt electric engines.

E-Fan X infographic(Credit: Airbus)

According to the press release, the E-Fan X demonstrator will explore the challenges of high-power propulsion systems, such as thermal effects, electric thrust management, altitude and dynamic effects on electric systems and electromagnetic compatibility issues. The objective is to push and mature the technology, performance, safety, and reliability enabling quick progress on the hybrid electric technology.

The programme also aims at establishing the requirements for future certification of electrically powered aircraft while training a new generation of designers and engineers to bring hybrid-electric commercial aircraft one step closer to reality.

The EU is dedicated to reducing dependence on fossil fuels and the European Commission’s Flightpath 2050 Vision for Aviation mandates reducing emissions of carbon dioxide by 75 percent, nitrogen oxides by 90 percent, and noise by 65 percent. According to Airbus, these goals are outside the reach of conventional aircraft designs, but not that of ones based on electric propulsion.