Rolls-Royce announces new hybrid-electric flight demonstrator

Rolls-Royce demonstrator Image by Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce has taken a significant step towards realising the ambition to provide hybrid-electric propulsion systems for the next generation of aviation.

Rolls-Royce announced on 6 November that it will be working with APUS, a German aviation engineering company, and the Brandenburg University of Technology, on developing a hybrid-electric flight demonstrator based on its hybrid M250 propulsion system. The collaboration will enable one of the world’s most comprehensive hybrid aerospace turbine engine development with experimental flights expected after 2021.

This project will include an APUS i-5 plane to demonstrate the practical application of hybrid electric technology for a 4000kg conventional take-off and landing flight test vehicle. The system could be used across a range of transport platforms to enable distributed electric propulsion, including EVTOL’s (hybrid electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles), general aviation aircraft and hybrid helicopters in the future.

Rolls-Royce engineers developed the M250 engine into a hybrid-electric propulsion system. The announced project will integrate an M250 gas turbine engine with a high energy density battery system, electric generators, power converters and an advanced power management and control system.

The M250 hybrid power pack complements the AE 2100 2.5MW system being developed for larger aircraft, including regional aviation, and is being tested with Airbus on the E-Fan-X demonstrator platform.

The M250 gas turbine engine has powered more than 170 varieties of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, in both military and civilian service. Rolls-Royce selected this engine for its maturity, power-density, ease of maintenance, and high reliability. The total M250-powered fleet has logged more than 250 million engine flight hours, with more than 33,000 engines delivered to the market.