Airbus, Siemens To Cooperate on Hybrid Electric Propulsion

 - April 7, 2016, 10:43 AM
Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser (left) and Airbus Group CEO Tom Enders sign a deal to cooperate in the field of hybrid electric propulsion systems in Munich on April 7. (Photo: Airbus)

Airbus Group and Siemens have agreed to collaborate on a hybrid electric propulsion project expected to employ a 200-strong development team tasked with demonstrating the technical feasibility of various systems by 2020, the companies announced Thursday. 

Airbus and Siemens plan to jointly develop prototypes for various propulsion systems with power classes ranging from a few kilowatts to 10 or more megawatts for short trips with aircraft carrying fewer than 100 seats, helicopters and UAVs.

Both companies, together with Austria’s Diamond Aircraft, first presented a hybrid aircraft in 2011. Since then, Siemens has engaged in the development of an electric aircraft engine that supplies five times as much power at the same weight. Airbus Group has worked on electrically powered aircraft with the support of the French government since 2014 with the E-Fan, a fully electric two-seater for pilot training. Meawhile, it plans to accelerate development of components and systems technologies at the planned E-Aircraft System House at its Ottobrunn/Taufkirchen site in Germany.

“Electric and electric-hybrid flight represent some of the biggest industrial challenges of our time, aiming at zero-emissions aviation,” said Airbus Group CEO Tom Enders. The progress we achieved in this arena, together with our industrial and governmental partners, in only a few years is breathtaking, culminating in last year’s channel crossing of our all-elecric E-Fan aircraft...We believe that by 2030 passenger aircraft below 100 seats could be propelled by hybrid propulsion systems and we are determined to explore this possibility together with world-class partners like Siemens.”

Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser talked of opening a new chapter in “E-Mobility.”

“The undertaking will be an important project under the umbrella of our so-called Innovation AG,” he said. “As previously announced, the aim of this unit is to cooperate with innovative partners in order to identify and invest in new trends and develop future-oriented business opportunities. These partners may include entrepreneurs from Siemens’ own employee environment, external start-ups and newly founded companies.”