Saturday, May 25, 2024

Raytheon completes first engine run of hybrid-electric flight demonstrator

Raytheon Technologies has successfully completed the first engine run of the company’s regional hybrid-electric flight demonstrator. This marks a key milestone towards flight testing, targeted to begin in 2024.

The initial run of the propulsion system took place at Pratt & Whitney’s innovation facility in Longueuil, Quebec, and performed as expected. The system integrates a 1 MW electric motor developed by Collins Aerospace with a highly efficient Pratt & Whitney fuel-burning engine specially adapted for hybrid-electric operation.

This powerplant technology will enable more efficient engine performance during the different phases of flight, such as take-off, climb, and cruise, reducing fuel burn and CO2 emissions by up to 30% compared to today’s most advanced regional turboprop aircraft.

“Hybrid-electric propulsion technology offers significant potential to optimize efficiency across a range of different aircraft applications, helping our industry meet its ambitious goal for achieving net zero CO2 emissions,” said Jean Thomassin, executive director of new products and services, Pratt & Whitney Canada. “With our ground test program now well underway, planned flight testing will enable us to accelerate the demonstration of this next-generation sustainable propulsion technology as we continue to expand our collaboration within Canada’s aerospace ecosystem and beyond.”

The novel e-motor will be mounted inside a perfectly normal De Havilland Canada Dash 8-100 aircraft, serving as the platform for future flight demonstrations.

“We are honored that Raytheon Technologies has chosen our Design Approval Organization to lead the flight test program for this historic demonstrator project,” said John Maris, 3C president and chief test pilot for the project. “3C has assembled a trusted Quebec team that includes Chrono Aviation, WAAS Aerospace, and Elisen & associés to integrate the hybrid-electric powertrain, battery system, and high voltage electrical harness into 3C’s Dash 8 research aircraft. I am confident that 3C’s extensive flight test experience and historical relationship with Transport Canada will complement Raytheon Technologies’ outstanding team to safely demonstrate this important technological advance.”

Raytheon and its partners expect the first working prototype to be ready to fly by at least the beginning of 2024. The full-scale commercial production is hoped to start soon afterward if all goes according to plan.