Boeing joins major US program to demonstrate hybrid electric aircraft


Boeing is to modify the test aircraft and support the flight testing of a megawatt class hybrid-electric aircraft propulsion system being developed by aero-engine maker GE Aviation.

Boeing and its subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences is to make the nacelle of the aircraft, design the flight deck interface and its software, provide aircraft-level performance analysis, and systems integration as part of the five-year, US$260 million Electric Powertrain Flight Demonstration (EPFD) program.

NASA launched the EPFD project last October to conduct ground and flight testing of a megawatt-class hybrid electric propulsion system by 2026. The propulsion system will be suitable use in single-aisle aircraft suitable for short-range regional commercial air travel.

GE Aviation was awarded US$179 million and electric-powertrain developer MagniX US$74.3 million to develop and test the hybrid-electric powertrain on a modified Saab 340B testbed, which will use GE’s CT7-9B turboshaft engines for the program.

The aircraft systems engineering and testing on for the Saab 340B will be done at Aurora’s headquarters in Manassas, Virginia, with nacelle manufacturing taking place in its facilities in Mississippi and West Virginia.

Per Beith, president and CEO of Aurora Flight Sciences, which is the R&D subsidiary of Boeing said, “We are proud to contribute our expertise in aircraft components, systems engineering, and testing to this important project. Working with GE Aviation, we will make a significant impact on the advancement of electrified propulsion for commercial air transport.”

Mohamed Ali, vice president and general manager of engineering for GE Aviation said, “We are excited about the opportunity to collaborate with Boeing to advance hybrid electric and electric propulsion systems.

“NASA’s Electrified Powertrain Flight Demonstration project is an opportunity for GE Aviation and Boeing, world leaders in aviation technologies, to show hybrid electric propulsion is real and possible for the future of commercial flight to reduce carbon emissions.”

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About Author


Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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