Hybrid Airplane Concept Moves Forward

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Diamond Aircraft and electronics giant, Siemens, are moving forward on plans for an experimental hybrid airplane based on Diamond’s existing DA 40 twin engine aircraft, reports AVWeb.

The plan is to mount two electric motors on pylons connected to the front engine compartment rather than positioned in the normal position on the wings. That arrangement would permit a single diesel engine driving a generator to be mounted in the usual engine location.

According to Diamond CEO, Christian Dries, the “two electric motors… each weigh less than 30 pounds but deliver 85 kilowatts or 114 horsepower. The aircraft will use some 440 pounds of lithium ion batteries mounted where the backseat would normally be, so it will be limited to two occupants. Typical cruise speeds [would be] 110 to 120 knots, [and] the airplane would have 10 hours of endurance, burning 6 to 7 liters (1.8 gallons) per hour.” That is about one tenth the fuel consumption of a conventional twin engine small airplane that consumes nearly 11 gallons or fuel per hour at normal cruising speed and altitude.

During the testing phase, the companies will experiment with some of the ideas NASA has developed for its GL1o electric vertical take off and landing (VTOL) prototype.

Did it seem just a few years ago that the concept of a diesel electric hybrid airplane was too far out to even consider? Not any more.

Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.