Pratt & Whitney this week achieved the first engine run for its hybrid-electric demonstrator as it continues to prepare to start flight testing the propulsion system on a Dash 8 regional airliner in 2024. Reporting the test on December 20, the Raytheon Technologies subsidiary said that the demonstrator combines an unspecified turbine engine with a 1 MW electric motor produced by its sister company Collins Aerospace for an overall power output of 2 MW, which is comparable to that of a PW121 turboprop engine.
The initial run for the propulsion system was conducted at Pratt & Whitney’s innovation center at Longueuil in Quebec. The program, which has received funding from both federal and provincial governments in Canada, aims to achieve a 30 percent reduction in fuel burn and carbon dioxide emissions compared with current aircraft engines.
Canada’s Flight Test Centre of Excellence has been tasked with modifying and operating the Dash 8-100 aircraft that is to be used for airborne tests. It will integrate the hybrid-electric powertrain, a battery system provided by Swiss firm H55, and high-voltage electrical harnesses.
In November, Pratt & Whitney, MTU Aero Engines, Collins Aerospace, Airbus, and GKN Aerospace, announced plans for a separate program to develop a hybrid-electric turbofan for narrowbody airliners. The Sustainable Water-Injecting Water-Enhanced Turbofan project combines the MTU-led work on a Water-Enhanced Turbofan with a hybrid-electric propulsion system based on Pratt & Whitney’s Geared Turbofan.
Meanwhile, earlier this week, Rolls-Royce confirmed that it has completed the construction of the technology demonstrator for its UltraFan airliner engine family. The aircraft engines group plans to start running the testbed at its Derby, UK, headquarters early in 2023 and will run the unit on 100 percent sustainable aviation fuel.
The program is intended to achieve a significant reduction in fuel burn and carbon emissions compared with current Trent engines. Rolls-Royce says the UltraFan technology will be scalable to deliver a thrust range of between 25,000 and 110,000 pounds to support both narrowbody and widebody airliners.