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Thursday, 23 Jun 2011

World’s first serial hybrid electric aircraft unveiled

Diamond Aircraft in conjunction with Siemens, Austro Engine and EADS have unveiled the world’s first aircraft with a serial hybrid electric drive system at the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget (22-26 June 2011).

The two-seater motor glider was built by the four partners to test the hybrid electric drive concept, and successfully completed its maiden flight on 8th June at Austria's Wiener Neustadt airfield in Vienna.

Looking to the future, the technology, which is intended for future use also in large aircraft, will reduce fuel consumption and emissions by 25%, compared to today’s most efficient aircraft technologies.

Air traffic accounts for some 2.2 percent of CO2 emissions worldwide and there is increasing pressure for aircraft to become more efficient. One possible solution – which Siemens and its partners Diamond Aircraft and EADS are testing in the DA36 E-Star motor glider – is to electrify the drive system.

“A serial hybrid electric drive can be scaled for a wide range of uses, making it highly suitable for aircraft as well,” said Dr. Frank Anton, the initiator of electric aircraft development at Siemens. “The first thing we want to do is test the technology in small aircraft. In the long term, however, the drive system will also be used in large-scale aircraft.”

The pioneering motor glider, which is based on Diamond Aircraft’s HK36 Super Dimona, is the only aircraft of its kind in the world. It is the first to use a so-called serial hybrid electric drive, which has only been used to date in cars, as an integrated drive train. The plane’s propeller is powered by a 70kW electric motor from Siemens. Electricity is supplied by a small Wankel engine from Austro Engine with a generator that functions solely as a power source. A Siemens converter provides the electric motor with power from the battery and the generator. The aircraft's fuel consumption is so low because the combustion engine always runs with a constant low output of 30kW. A battery system from EADS provides the increased power necessary during takeoff and climb, and the accumulator is recharged during the cruising phase.

 “On the long way to hybrid electric-powered commercial aircraft, the maiden flight of the DA36 E-Star is a small step and at the same time a historic milestone,” said Dr. Jean Botti, Chief Technical Officer and member of the Executive Committee of EADS.

The next stage of development will involve further optimisation of the entire drive train. Siemens scientists are now working on a new electric motor that should be five times lighter than conventional drives. In two years' time, another aircraft is expected to be equipped with an ultra-light electric drive.

The DA36 E-Star is being exhibited at the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget in a daily flight demonstration (20-26 June 2011).

Visit Diamond Aircraft's website at www.diamondaircraft.com

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Flight planning

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