NASA has awarded US$260 million of funding to GE Aviation and electric powertrain developer Magnix to develop a hybrid electric technology demonstrator aircraft.
GE Aviation will receive US$179 million of funding, while MagniX will receive $74.3million.
The five-year Electric Powertrain Flight Demonstration (EPFD) project aims to conduct ground and flight testing of a megawatt (MW)-class hybrid electric propulsion system by 2026.
The hybrid-electric powertrain will be flight tested on a modified Saab 340B testbed and use GE’s CT7-9B turboshaft engines.
NASA said it wants to see what it is terming Electrified Aircraft Propulsion (EAP) technologies used in US aviation fleets no later than 2035, for short-range and regional commercial air travel, as well as single-aisle seat transports.
Robert Pearce, associate administrator for the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate at NASA said, “By taking these concepts to flight, NASA and its partners will accelerate the transition of EAP technologies into commercial products and be a catalyst for economic growth.
“We expect to realize significant improvements in the economic and environmental performance of subsonic transports through incorporation of these novel alternative propulsion and energy technologies into the fleet.”
Mohamed Ali, vice president of engineering for GE Aviation said, “We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with NASA to take hybrid electric aircraft engines out of our test labs and into the sky, bringing more sustainable technology solutions to commercial aviation as quickly as possible,” said
As part of the EPFD program, GE will also provide guidance and data to help establish standards, certification and regulatory requirements for hybrid-electric engines.
As a result of the funding, GE Aviation said It expects to add more than 25 new hybrid electric engineering jobs. For more information about these job opportunities, visit jobs.gecareers.com.
GE has been involved in several hybrid-electric systems and electrical power generation development programs and has research and flight component development capabilities at GE Research and GE Power. Most recently the company was part of a project to demonstrate a MW class motor/generator at altitude conditions up to 36,000 feet at NASA’s Electric Aircraft Testbed facility in Northern Ohio, USA.
Magnix, an electric motor company originally founded in Australia in 2009 but now headquartered in the USA, has been focused on developing hybrid-electric powertrains for aircraft during the last four years. Its magni350 and magni650 electric propulsion units are being used in several programs developing hybrid-electric aircraft for short haul operations, such as Ampaire’s and Universal Hydrogen’s.