Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Siemens have recently joined strengths to create a hybrid-electric airplane. The strategic development comes in response to the electric power movement happening in nearly all industrial fields. Siemens had recently partnered with Airbus in 2016 and has been continuously testing the integration of electric motors in aircrafts.
Expected to arrive in 2020, the goal of the partnership is to improve the efficiency, costs and environmental impact of conventional airplane propulsion systems. Dubbed the "E-Fan X", the system will be tested on a British Aerospace 146 flying testbed. The testbed uses four gas engines and only one of those will be replaced with a two megawatt electric motor. As development continues and reliability is ensured, all four gas engines will be replaced with their electric counterparts. E-Fan X is intended to pave the way for safe electric air travel while also serving as training ground for future aeronautical engineers and designers.
2016 Airbus, Siemens and Pipstrel Cricri Plane
Each company has its specific input in the joint project. Airbus handles the "overall integration", Rolls-Royce is responsible for the turbo-shaft engine and Siemens will provide the two megawatt electric motors and their power electronic control units and D/C converters. Siemens has been continuously pushing innovation forward and their collaboration with Airbus in 2016 served as a big step in a new chapter of electric-mobility.