RTX, a prominent aerospace company, has recently reached a significant milestone in its hybrid-electric flight demonstrator program.
The company successfully completed a rated power test of the program’s 1 megawatt (MW) electric motor, which was developed by Collins Aerospace, a business unit of RTX.
30 percent fuel efficiency improvement
This achievement brings RTX one step closer to its goal of developing a hybrid-electric propulsion system that promises a remarkable 30 percent improvement in fuel efficiency and a reduction in CO2 emissions when compared to the most advanced regional turboprops available today.
The 1MW electric motor, alongside a highly efficient thermal engine developed by Pratt & Whitney, will form the foundation of the hybrid-electric propulsion system.
Henry Brooks, the president of Power & Controls for Collins Aerospace, expressed his confidence in the motor’s capabilities, stating:
“With its industry-leading power density and efficiency, our 1MW motor will help to significantly reduce aircraft carbon emissions by supporting hybrid-electric propulsion architectures on the next generation of commercial platforms.”
The development of this motor aligns with the aviation industry’s shared commitment to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Compared to Collins’ current electric motor generators, the 1MW motor offers four times the power and voltage, with half the heat loss and weight.
The motor’s development takes place at Collins’ facility in Solihull, United Kingdom, with testing conducted at the University of Nottingham’s Institute for Aerospace Technology.
Following the successful low-speed engine run at a Pratt & Whitney Canada facility in Longueuil, Quebec, in December 2022, the testing of the hybrid-electric propulsion system, encompassing both the thermal engine and 1MW motor, will continue throughout 2023.
The integration of the propulsion system and batteries will occur on a Dash 8-100 experimental aircraft, with flight testing scheduled to commence in 2024. This project receives support from the governments of Canada and Quebec.
Jean Thomassin, the executive director of new products and services at Pratt & Whitney Canada, recognizes the potential of hybrid-electric propulsion technology in optimizing aircraft efficiency and considers it a vital component of their technology roadmap for achieving more sustainable aviation.
Thomassin emphasizes the collaboration between RTX, Pratt & Whitney, and various stakeholders within Canada’s aerospace ecosystem and worldwide.
Apart from its application in the hybrid-electric flight demonstrator, the 1MW motor will also be utilized in the Pratt & Whitney GTF™ hybrid-electric powertrain, a crucial component of the SWITCH project under the European Union’s Clean Aviation initiative.
Future testing of the motor will take place at The Grid, a state-of-the-art electric power systems lab located at Collins’ Rockford, Illinois facility, which is scheduled to open later this year.
In conclusion, RTX’s aerospace company, in collaboration with Collins Aerospace and Pratt & Whitney, has achieved a critical milestone in the development of a hybrid-electric propulsion system.
This achievement signifies a significant step forward in reducing aircraft carbon emissions and improving fuel efficiency.
The successful testing of the 1MW electric motor brings us closer to a more sustainable aviation industry and aligns with the industry’s collective aim of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
With ongoing advancements and collaborations, the aerospace industry continues to drive innovation toward a greener and more environmentally friendly future.