Tecnam hybrid aircraft makes maiden flight


Italian company Tecnam has successfully flown a hybrid version of its P2010 light aircraft for the first time.

The general aviation aircraft manufacturer has been working with aero-engine maker Rolls-Royce and powertrain company Rotax to develop the P2010 H3PS (High Power High Scalability Aircraft Hybrid Powertrain) hybrid aircraft.

The four-seat aircraft made the first test flight on December 21, 2021 under a Permit to Fly issued by ENAC, the Italian Civil Aviation Authority.

The flight was performed by Tecnam’s Chief Experimental Test Pilot Lorenzo De Stefano, with Tecnam, Rolls-Royce and Rotax Teams on the ground assisting.

Tecnam P2010 H3PS is powered by a 104kW Rotax 915 IS engine coupled with a 30kW Rolls-Royce electric motor, totaling 134kW (180hp) powertrain in a fully integrated parallel hybrid configuration.

Parallel hybrids provide power simultaneously from the electric motor and combustion engine. Series drivetrains only receive power from the electric motor, whereas series/parallel hybrid powertrains combine both approaches to provide power either independently or in conjunction.

Tecnam Aircraft’s R&D Director Fabio Russo said, “Though H3PS is not intended for market purposes, our successful flight tests demonstrate that a hybrid powertrain, with combustion engine coupled with an electric motor, can bear the same useful load of the traditional 180hp combustion engine,” said Russo.

Rob Watson, president of Rolls-Royce Electrical said, “The successful first flight of the P2010 H3PS demonstrator is a pioneering achievement by the team to advance hybrid-electric flight.

“Working with Tecnam and Rotax has been hugely beneficial, and this project has continued to build our capabilities in delivering all-electric and hybrid-electric power and propulsion systems for the advanced air mobility market.

Michael Dopona, head of design organization BRP-Rotax said, “The tests showed that there are still challenges to take up, however due to the efforts of all three parties the test flight could be concluded with deeper understanding and of course with a safe landing.

“The project showed that the joint venture with the qualified knowledge of these three global player companies in aviation lead to very interesting and future-orientated results for innovative propulsion systems.”

H3PS is an €4 milion (US$4.5 million) EU-funded research program launched in 2018.

Other hybrid aircraft to being flight tested include US-based company Ampaire’s Eel, which is also a parallel hybrid and French firm VoltAero’s Cassio.

Tecnam and Rolls-Royce are also partnering on the development of the P-Volt with Norwegian airline Widerøe, a fully electric passenger aircraft which the companies involve aim to be in service in 2026.

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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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