The future of air travel? Rolls Royce, Airbus and Siemens reveal radical hybrid passenger plane

  • Will use single electric engine alongside three conventional jet engines
  • Hoped it will be far quieter and produce less greenhouse gas

We are used to seeing hybrid cars like the Prius on our roads.

But now hybrid passenger planes – part electric engines and conventional jet fuel – could soon take to the skies.

Rolls Royce, Airbus and Siemens have teamed up to develop a hybrid passenger plane.

An Airbus e-FanX hybrid test plane. The aircraft will be flying with one electric turbofan motor and 3 conventional engines. The electric power for the electric engine is being produced by a turbine within the plane that serves as a generator.

An Airbus e-FanX hybrid test plane. The aircraft will be flying with one electric turbofan motor and 3 conventional engines. The electric power for the electric engine is being produced by a turbine within the plane that serves as a generator.

HOW IT WORKS?

The three companies said they aim to build a demonstration plane by 2020 and a production model by 2030.

The aircraft would be based on the existing BAe 146 four-engine regional jet and capable of carrying 50-100 passengers.

If the system works, a second electric engine could be added, the companies said.

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It is planned to use a single electric engine alongside three conventional jet engines running on aviation fuel.?

It is hoped using electric engines will cut down on the noise caused by airliners in the skies and produce less greenhouse gas which contributes to global warming.

The aviation industry is keen on getting quieter engines: electric motors in planes could allow more night flights above cities.

The plane is an effort to cut emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from aviation.

The three companies said they aim to build a demonstration plane by 2020 and a production model by 2030.

The aircraft would be based on the existing BAe 146 four-engine regional jet and capable of carrying 50-100 passengers.

If the system works, a second electric engine could be added, the companies said.

Air travel accounts for 2 per cent of global man-made carbon dioxide emissions, but this is expected to triple by 2050 as global demand surges.?

The number of passengers is forecast to double in the next 20 years alone.

The companies said European plane maker Airbus would be responsible for building the aircraft's systems into a working whole, control systems and flight controls.?

The demonstrator plane will  use a single electric engine alongside three conventional jet engines running on aviation fuel

The demonstrator plane will use a single electric engine alongside three conventional jet engines running on aviation fuel

Rolls-Royce plc would make the generator and the turbo-shaft engine, while German engineering company Siemens would deliver the electric motor to power the engine.?

The companies said they were looking ahead to the European Union's long-term goals of reducing CO2 emissions from aviation by 60 percent, as well as meeting noise and pollution limits that they said ‘cannot be achieved with technologies existing today.’?

Other projects for hybrid or electric planes are in the works.?

Kirkland, Washington-based Zunum Aero says it is working on a 12-seat hybrid-electric commuter jet.?

The company's website lists its partners as Boeing, jetBlue Technology Ventures, and the Department of Commerce Clean Energy Fund.?

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