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Airbus, Rolls-Royce, Siemens to make hybrid-electric aircraft

Staff Writer |
Airbus, Siemens and Rolls-Royce announced a collaborative effort on Tuesday to develop a hybrid-electric airplane engine.

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The three European aerospace companies said the goal of the project, called the E-Fan X, is to replace one of four gas turbine jet engines on a Bae 146 short-haul aircraft prototype with an electric motor by 2020.

If successful, the companies would then try to replace a second engine.

Airbus will be responsible for the overall integration of parts made by Rolls-Royce and Siemens for the aircraft propulsion systems, the companies said. Siemens will build the two-megawatt motor and Rolls-Royce will construct the generator.

A short-haul plane with four electric engines requires about 20 megawatts to operate safely, Airbus said.

The project is motivated by environmental goals of the European Commission calling for a 75 percent reduction in aircraft-generated carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.

The commission guidelines also call for a 90 percent reduction in nitrogen oxides and a 65 percent decline in noise pollution.

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