Pratt & Whitney recruit H55 to hybrid propulsion project
Aerospace manufacturer Pratt & Whitney (P&R) Canada has selected Swiss battery developer H55 to supply battery systems for its regional hybrid-electric flight demonstrator program
“We’re delighted to draw from H55’s technology in the field of aircraft battery systems, and collaborate with NRC and IVI on optimizing the design for our hybrid-electric flight demonstrator program,” said Jean Thomassin, Executive Director New Products and Services at P&WC.
Ground testing of the propulsion system will begin in 2022, with flight demonstrations planned to begin in 2024. P&W say that they are targeting a 30 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency and commensurate reduction in CO2 emissions, compared with modern turboprop engines.
“Hybrid-electric technology holds significant potential to boost the efficiency of next generation aircraft propulsion systems, allowing us to set new standards for sustainability for regional and commuter aircraft,” Thomassin added.
The project is being supported by a mixture of private and public sector expertise
It follows P&W Canada’s announcement in July 2021 that it would invest C$163 million to develop hybrid-electric aircraft propulsion, with support from the Canadian and Quebec governments.
The development of hybrid-electric propulsion is a core part of P&R’s strategy to support an aviation industry-wide goal of achieving net zero CO2 emissions by 2050, alongside other initiatives such as the development of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) and hydrogen-powered propulsion systems.
The development of the propulsion system is being supported by a mixture of private sector partners. Aside from H55, other partner businesses include Collins Aerospace and de Havilland Canada. Government agencies such as the Canadian government’s National Research Council Canada (NRC) research and development agency, and the Quebec government’s Innovative Vehicle Institute (IVI) tech incubator are also providing expertise.
NRC’s contributions will support the development of high voltage battery sub-systems and related elements, while IVI will support work to optimize the design and integration of the battery and control systems.
Collins Aerospace will provide the one-megawatt electric motor for the propulsion system, while de Havilland provides the experimental aircraft - a de Havilland Canada Dash 8.
P&W Canada was also awarded a contract in December 2021 by Australia’s Amphibian Aerospace Industries to supply turboprop engines for its upgraded G-111 design.