Hybrid-electric aviation is coming!

The MAHEPA study on hybrid-electric aircraft impact on mobility and emissions reduction has been started at the Consortium Meeting held at the University of Maribor on 27th and 28th March 2018.

It has been almost a year since the MAHEPA project started. This first year of activities contributed to the state-of-the-art of hybrid-electric aircraft research with the definition of a universal modular architecture applicable to all hybrid-electric aircraft. This conceptual work, published on the project website (www.mahepa.eu/result), was followed by a detailed design of the architecture implementation for the first test aircraft, the Panthera Hybrid, and for the second test aircraft, the fuel cell (FC) powered aircraft Hy4. Looking towards a green, quieter and safe electric aviation, a system safety assessment (SSA), a functional hazard analysis (FHA) and a qualitative fault tree analysis (FTA) were performed for both versions of the hybrid-electric powertrain. In this early project stage of designing new hybrid aircraft, the performance and energy efficiency trade-off study for serial-hybrid aircraft revealed that hybrid-electric Panthera will feature a much lower footprint, but also zero-emission taxiing, take-off and landing thanks to the all-electric mode. Furthermore, the fuel consumption is estimated to be at least 10 % lower compared to the standard propulsion, paving the way towards the adoption of hybrids. Additionally, the preliminary study of the fuel cell architecture for the Hy4 aircraft defined the specification for a new, more reliable fuel cell system and the start of the fuel cell manufacturing process.

To continue these first year innovation activities, the MAHEPA partners meet at the University of Maribor in Slovenia to plan the future research work. In the next six months the design work on the major powertrain components will be followed by the start of their manufacturing phase. As part of a wider project vision towards the impact of hybrid aircrafts on our daily lives, the MAHEPA impact study was started modelling the costs and the emission reduction potential of a hybrid-electric aircraft fleet, but also the investment plan in airport infrastructures necessary to operate it. This study will provide valuable insight on the concrete steps to introduce promising and environmental friendlier aircraft propulsion technology in the next decade.