Airbus, Siemens to join forces for electric aircraft
In doing so, the chief executive officers of both companies, Tom Enders and Joe Kaeser, have launched a major joint project towards the electrification of aviation with the goal of demonstrating the technical feasibility of various hybrid/electric propulsion systems by 2020.
Both companies will be making significant contributions into the project and have sourced a team of around 200 employees to advance European leadership in innovation and the development of electrically powered aircraft.
Hybrid-electric propulsion systems can significantly reduce fuel consumption of aircraft and reduce noise. European emissions targets aim for a 75 percent reduction of CO2 emissions by 2050 compared to the values for the year 2000. These ambitious goals cannot be achieved by conventional technologies.
Airbus Group and Siemens plan to jointly develop prototypes for various propulsion systems with power classes ranging from a few 100 kilowatts up to 10 and more megawatts, i.e. for short, local trips with aircraft below 100 seats, helicopters or UAVs up to classic short and medium-range journeys.
Both companies together with Austria's Diamond Aircraft initially presented a hybrid aircraft back in 2011. Since then, Siemens has been developing an electric engine for aircraft which supplies five times as much power while retaining the same weight.
Airbus Group has been gathering operational experience with electrically powered aircraft since 2014 with the E-Fan, a full electric two-seater dedicated to training pilots.
This success has been achieved together with various industrial partners and steadfast support of the French government.
Airbus Group intends to accelerate with the extended capabilities of the planned E-Aircraft System House at Ottobrunn/Taufkirchen site the development of components and system technologies.
Siemens is determined to establish hybrid-electric propulsion systems for aircraft as a future business. The partners have agreed to collaborate exclusively in selected development areas.
In parallel, both partners will continue to work together with their current partners for small aircraft with fewer than 20 seats. ■