New steps in pursuit of electric airplanes

Two milestones cover the E-Aircraft Systems House and Airbus’ industrial cooperation with Siemens

Airbus’ strategy to prepare the future of electric and hybrid electric propulsion for aviation marked two milestones this week: a ceremonial go-ahead for the company’s large development and test facility near Munich, Germany, and the signing of an industrial cooperation with Germany’s Siemens on hybrid electric propulsion systems.

There was a distinctly Bavarian atmosphere for the E-Aircraft System House groundbreaking ceremony.

These parallel events took place at the company’s site of Taufkirchen/Ottobrunn, home to Airbus’s Corporate Technical Office and the Airbus Innovations research and technology network – which together evolved the first-generation E-Fan all-electric aircraft demonstrator.

The new test facility, named the E-Aircraft System House, will serve as an Airbus focal point to validate electric and hybrid aircraft propulsion technologies. This site will be jointly operated by Airbus Innovations and the company’s three divisions: Airbus, Airbus Helicopters and Airbus Defence and Space.  

During the April 7 event, a symbolic foundation stone was installed at the E-Aircraft System House’s future location. Led by Airbus CEO Tom Enders, the ceremony also brought together Andy Anderson, Airbus’s Deputy Chief Technical Officer; former Chief Technical Officer Jean Botti; along with Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser, as well as German, Bavarian and local government officials.

Advancing Europe’s innovation in electric aircraft

The E-Aircraft System House will be a resource for the entire Airbus.

The E-Aircraft System House’s construction is expected to start in early 2017, enabling an opening by late 2018. 

At the same gathering, Airbus signed a long-term collaboration agreement with Siemens, kicking off a major joint project to demonstrate the technical feasibility of various hybrid/electric propulsion systems for aviation by 2020. The accord was inked by Airbus’s Tom Enders and Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser.

Both CEOs said the collaboration’s goal is to further advance Europe’s leadership in innovation and the development of electrically-powered aircraft. Activity is expected to be centered on propulsion systems in three general power categories: several hundred kilowatts, for applications such as helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs); up to two megawatts, typically applicable to intra-urban air vehicles; and 10 megawatts (with scalability up to 20 megawatts) for regional passenger aircraft.

Airbus and Siemens will be making significant commitments to the project – involving several hundred million euros over the next four to five years, supported by a sourced team of approximately 200 employees.

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