Towards the new era of aviation

MAHEPA (Modular Approach to Hybrid-Electric Propulsion Architecture) is one of the flagship Horizon 2020 projects, where eight European partners under the leadership of Pipistrel Vertical Solutions, joined their knowledge and expertise to revolutionize aviation. The project consortium is organising a press conference on November 4th, 2021, at the Maribor Edvard Rusjan Airport in Slovenia to mark the successful completion of the project. The event will also be streamed (you can find the in the section Live stream).

With research in the field of low-emission propulsion technology, the MAHEPA has opened up the potentiality for serial production of more sustainable aircraft to support European aviation environmental targets. The main outcomes of the project are novel, modular, and scalable hybrid-electric powertrains, capable of running on alternative fuels or hydrogen with zero emissions. These powertrains represent the key technology for future hybrid-electric aircraft, enabling economical and environmentally sustainable air travel.

An innovative technology has been integrated into
two four-seat aircraft, the Panthera and the Hy4 aircraft. The first is equipped with an internal combustion engine based hybrid-electric powertrain, While the second hybridized with a hydrogen fed fuel cell system, ddemonstrating the potential for zero-emission long-range flights. Both aircraft successfully completed their Flight test campaigns, which provided invaluable data on the benefits and challenges of hybrid-electric aviation. Such sustainable powertrains could be used for the next generation of green short to medium haul passenger aircraft, capable of using existing local airports to provide microfeeder services to larger hubs, thus eliminating gaseous emission and noise impact on surrounding communities.

The MAHEPA project has been leading the way toward more sustainable aviation, which would not be possible without the combined efforts and strong collaboration of the MAHEPA consortium. Under the leadership of
Pipistrel Vertical Solutions, widely recognised as leaders in the field of electric flight, DLR – German Aerospace Center and H2FLY GmbH, the pioneers of hydrogen flight, Compact Dynamics GmbH, experts in the development of innovative electric propulsion systems, and on the other hand, two top-level universities, Politecnico di Milano and TU Delft, with the support of researchers from the University of Ulm and the University of Maribor, the consortium aimed to develop key aerospace technologies and set an important milestone on the road to zero-emission aviation.

The MAHEPA project has not only succeeded in flying two novel aircraft with technologically advanced propulsion systems, but it has also provided newly developed testing procedures, new scalability studies, and valuable new market scenarios, focusing on the microfeeder and miniliner concepts.

MAHEPA has made the first serious attempt towards an economic evaluation of relatively novel investments in ground infrastructure, required for recharging and refuelling hybrid-electric aircraft, and a comprehensive strategy on the implementation of hybrid-electric aircraft in the medium and long-term future.

The MAHEPA project greatly contributed to cleaner, quieter, and more sustainable aviation and has brought the goals of the
European Green Deal one step closer to reality.