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Rolls-Royce Announces New Hybrid-Electric Flight i-5 Demonstrator Aircraft

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Rolls-Royce has taken one more significant step towards the ambition to provide hybrid-electric propulsion systems for next gen aviation

Rolls-Royce hybrid electric  APUS i-5 demonstrator aircraft
The Rolls-Royce hybrid electric APUS i-5 demonstrator aircraft. Credit: Rolls-Royce
  • Rolls-Royce earlier created an M250 hybrid power system and conducted ground tests
  • The APUS i-5 plane will now be used to demonstrate its integration with an aircraft
  • The M250 hybrid power pack also complements systems being developed for larger aircraft as seen with the E-Fan X demonstrator

Earlier this year Rolls-Royce announced it had conducted ground tests of a hybrid-electric propulsion system built around an M250 turboshaft engine. All it needed now was to find an airframe to integrate the system into. Rolls-Royce has now found that airframe and taken one more significant step towards realising the ambition to provide hybrid-electric propulsion systems for the next generation of aviation.

“Rolls-Royce has always been a pioneer in aviation and one of the key elements of our strategy is to champion electrification across all our businesses”

Dr Mike Mekhiche, Deputy Director, Rolls-Royce Electrical

Dr Mekhiche added, “Electrification is one of the most exciting developments in aviation since the birth of the jumbo jet. We are determined to use our pedigree in aerospace to be at the forefront of developing innovative propulsion systems to meet the needs of the next chapter in aviation. When this happens, it’s going to transform the way aero transport is designed and produced, reducing the time required to travel, revolutionising cargo delivery and changing the way we design our cities and infrastructure.” 

The 5 elements of the Rolls-Royce strategy
Championing electrification is one of the 5 elements of the Rolls-Royce strategy. Credit: Rolls-Royce

Who’s Involved

Rolls-Royce will be working with APUS, an aviation engineering company based in Strausberg, close to Berlin, and the Brandenburg University of Technology (BTU), Germany, in developing a hybrid electric flight demonstrator based on its hybrid M250 propulsion system. The project is being supported by the Brandenburg Government under the regional programme to develop research, innovation and technology (ProFIT), managed by the Investment Bank of the State of Brandenburg (ILB), and is scheduled for a duration of three years. The collaboration will enable one of the world’s most comprehensive hybrid aerospace turbine engine development and integration programs and pave the way for experimental flights on aircraft after 2021.

The Aircraft

This project will include an APUS i-5 plane to demonstrate the practical application of hybrid electric technology for a 4000kg conventional take-off and landing flight test vehicle. The system could be used across a range of transport platforms to enable distributed electric propulsion, including EVTOL’s (hybrid electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles), general aviation aircraft and hybrid helicopters in the future.

The M250 Hybrid System

The traditional non-hybrid M250 gas turbine engine has powered more than 170 varieties of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, in both military and civilian service. Rolls-Royce selected this engine for hybridisation because of its maturity, power-density, ease of maintenance, and high reliability. The total M250-powered fleet has logged more than 250 million engine flight hours, with more than 33,000 engines delivered to the market.

Rolls-Royce M250 aircraft turboshaft engine
Rolls-Royce M250 turboshaft engine is part of the experimental hybrid-electric unit. Credit: Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce engineers based in the United States, UK, Germany, Norway and Singapore developed the M250 engine into a hybrid-electric propulsion system.

The Rolls-Royce powered APUS i-5 demonstrator project just announced today integrates that new hybrid system using a M250 gas turbine engine with a high energy density battery system, electric generators, power converters and an advanced power management and control system. The power management system optimises overall propulsion performance in order for the system to be suitable across a variety of platforms, including EVTOL, while delivering efficiency gains, reduced noise and lower emissions.

Earlier this year hybrid version tests were successfully carried across three system configurations:

  • Series Hybrid: In this configuration, the engine operates as a turbo-generator that charges an on-board battery system, and does not contribute to thrust directly. All power required for thrust and other onboard systems is supplied by the battery.
  • Parallel Hybrid: In this configuration, the platform thrust is supplied by a combination of the engine (mechanical thrust) and the electrical system (electrical thrust), while the other power needs of the aircraft are met by the battery.
  • Turbo-Electric mode: In this configuration, the battery system is redundant. The engine operates as a pure turbo-generator supplying electric power for thrust and any other power needs on the aircraft.

The M250 hybrid power pack also complements the AE 2100 2.5MW system being developed for larger aircraft, including regional aviation, and is being tested with Airbus on the E-Fan-X demonstrator platform.

Rolls-Royce collaboration with the E-Fan X demonstrator aircraft
Rolls-Royce is working with Airbus on its E-Fan X project for a hybrid-electric airliner.

Funding

Funding for this hybrid electric flying project was requested within the framework of the ProFIT promotion guideline issued by the Brandenburg Ministry of Economics and Energy. The application was submitted in the typical two-stage process with the support of Wirtschaftsförderung WFBB and the Business Development Bank of the State of Brandenburg, ILB. The financial ProFIT support is provided by the State of Brandenburg from the European Regional Development Fund and federal and state funds. All project partners would particularly like to thank the ILB for the accompanying consultations and the European Regional Development Fund for the co-financing.

What Rolls-Royce Says

Dr. Dirk Geisinger, Director Business Aviation and Chairman Rolls-Royce Deutschland, said: “We thank the Brandenburg Government sincerely for its continued support and are delighted to be working with APUS and the Brandenburg University of Technology on this groundbreaking demonstrator program. This is an important step forward in developing propulsion systems that will enable a new class of quieter and cleaner air transport. At the same time this will further strengthen our Dahlewitz site, which is one of the hubs for the advancement of hybrid-electric propulsion in our company.”

Rob Watson, Director of Rolls-Royce Electrical said: “We have already ground tested the hybrid version of the M250 gas turbine in a demonstration setting in Series Hybrid, Parallel Hybrid and Turbo-Electric operating modes. The M250 hybrid is planned to be used as a propulsion plant with power ranging from 500kW to 1MW and has the potential to transform aviation power. Rolls-Royce has pioneered every significant development of the aviation industry and it is only natural that we play our part in this exciting next step of electrification.”

What Brandenburg University of Technology Says

Prof. Dr. Georg Möhlenkamp, Chair for Power Electronics & Electrical Drive Systems, BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg said: “We are very pleased to be a partner within this important project. Being responsible for electric hybrid system functional modelling, dynamic modelling of system performance and electro-mechanical system test support acknowledges our strong competencies in this field and represents a first visible step in our strategy to collaborate with Rolls-Royce on sustainable aircraft propulsion.”

What APUS Says

Phillip Scheffel, Chief Executive Officer, APUS aeronautical engineering GmbH, said: “As the supplier for the iron bird test airframe, installation hardware design and hybrid system installation partner, we are keen to take this project forward and to achieve experimental flight clearance together. Receiving funding from Brandenburg Government helps greatly to realise our exciting plans and enable significant learnings for a range of other electro hybrid aircraft systems.”

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Porsche x Embraer’s Special Edition “Duet” Phenom 300E Business Jet and 911 Turbo S

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Porsche and Embraer have created the limited edition “Duet” that consists of a specially designed 911 Turbo S and Phenom 300E Business Jet matching set.
Matching "Duet" Porsche 911 Turbo S and Embraer Phenom 300E. Credit: Porsche & Embraer
Matching “Duet” Porsche 911 Turbo S and Embraer Phenom 300E. Credit: Porsche & Embraer

Porsche’s Exclusive Manufaktur department has partnered with Embraer Business Jets to create a special edition 911 Turbo S that you only get if you’ve ordered the matching Embraer Phenom 300E Business Jet which start from $10.9 million each.

The matching pair concept known as “Duet” began four years ago with the intent to bring two very different vehicles together with a common design DNA.

Matching metallic Platinum and Jet Gray Metallic paint with aviation inspired twin stripes. Credit: Porsche & Embraer
Matching metallic Platinum and Jet Gray Metallic paint with aviation inspired twin stripes. Credit: Porsche & Embraer

“We worked together to benchmark processes,” said Michael Amalfitano, president and CEO of Embraer Executive Jets. “The design was all about exclusivity, but always focusing on the customers.”

Announced as the world’s first matching business jet and sports car, the machines take inspiration from each other with the special edition “Duet” Porsche 911 Turbo S and Phenom 300E, both featuring matching two-tone exterior paintwork in Platinum Silver Metallic and Jet Gray Metallic, along with an aviation-inspired twin strip in Brilliant Chrome and Speed Blue.

Porsche 911 Turbo S Limited Edition Duet Embraer Phenom 300E Rims
Blue trim detailing on the rims of the “Duet” Porsche 911 Turbo S. Credit: Porsche

The interior of the Porsche 911 Turbo S has also taken influences from the jet cockpit and has a special color scheme in black and chalk-colored leather with Speed Blue stitching. Door sill trims on both sides of the vehicle are illuminated in red with “No Step” referencing the corresponding warning found on aircraft wings.

"No Step" detailing on the door sill. Credit: Porsche
“No Step” detailing on the door sill. Credit: Porsche

A unique logo has also been created that takes inspiration from both models’ aerodynamics and includes a stylized airplane wing of the Phenom 300E and the rear wing of the 911 with the Sport Design package. This logo is used in the design across both the Porsche 911 Turbo S and Phenom 300E and can be found embossed on the headrests and the exterior badging.

Porsche 911 Turbo S Limited Edition Duet Embraer Phenom 300E Rear Wing
Each Porsche features the jet registration number on the underside of the rear wing. Credit: Porsche & Embraer

Limited to only 10 “Duet” sets worldwide, each of the Porsche 911 Turbo S models will also have the individual registration of its matching jet applied to the underside of the Porsche’s rear wing on the sides of the car key.

Porsche 911 Turbo S Limited Edition Duet Embraer Phenom 300E Car Keys
Jet registration number also found on the side of the car key. Credit: Porsche and Embraer

The “Duet” Porsche 911 Turbo S model is powered by a 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged flat-6 that produces 640 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque and is capable of reaching 0-60 mph time of 2.6 seconds and a top speed of 205 mph.

Interior cabin of the Embraer Phenom 300E business jet. Credit: Porsche and Embraer
Interior cabin of the Embraer Phenom 300E business jet. Credit: Porsche and Embraer

Of course, when an owner needs to go further faster, the Embraer Phenom 300E, the fastest and longest-ranged single-pilot jet currently available, has a range of 2,000 nautical miles and can fly at an altitude of 45,000 feet to get you there slightly quicker than the 911.

The Embraer Phenom 300E is the fastest and longest-ranged single-pilot jet currently available. Credit: Embraer
The Embraer Phenom 300E is the fastest and longest-ranged single-pilot jet currently available. Credit: Embraer

Also included in the Embraer Duet package is a customized pilot bag and two weekender bags, along with a special edition Porsche Design 1919 Globe timer UTC titanium watch inspired by the Phenom 300E.

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Airbus x Aston Martin ACH130 Helicopters Orders Signed For Three Continents Already

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Airbus Corporate Helicopters has confirmed customer orders on three different continents for the limited edition Aston Martin ACH130.
ACH130 Aston Martin Edition

At the beginning of the year, Airbus Corporate Helicopters launched the unique ACH130 Aston Martin Edition, created in collaboration with the British based luxury sports car maker.

Working closely together for over a year, the aeronautical designers at Airbus Corporate Helicopters and bespoke customization team at Aston Martin developed a range of four different interior and exterior designs that reflected the beauty and handcrafted excellence of automotive art in the form of a single-engine helicopter.

Airbus has now revealed three orders have already been signed for the ACH130 Aston Martin helicopter and are all expected to be operational in the coming months.

An existing Airbus customer in New Zealand was the first to place an order for the Asia Pacific region and plans to use the sporty ACH130 both privately and for VIP charter operations.

The second ACH130 Aston Martin edition can be found in Latin America and has recently entered service with an undisclosed VIP customer in Guatemala.

Meanwhile, the third and most recent order is for a Canadian based customer. Currently under construction in the UK, the latest edition will be delivered to the Airbus Customer Center in Fort Erie, Canada.

“We are delighted with the market reaction to this superb new helicopter,” shared Frédéric Lemos, Head of Airbus Corporate Helicopters. “These orders across the world, clearly demonstrate the excitement generated by our collaboration with Aston Martin.”

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Virgin Galactic Unveils New Mach 3 Supersonic Jet & Collaboration With Rolls-Royce

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Virgin Galactic announces new Mach 3 supersonic jet and collaboration with Rolls-Royce to design and develop the engine propulsion technology.
Virgin Galactic Mach 3 Supersonic Jet
The new Virgin Galactic Mach 3 Supersonic Jet will be three times faster than the speed of sound. Credit: Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic has recently announced the new Mach 3 super jet and its intent to collaborate with Rolls-Royce on developing the engine propulsion technology needed to take the Mach 3 to new heights and travel three times faster than the speed of sound.

Self-described as a “vertically-integrated aerospace and space travel company pioneering human spaceflight for private individuals and researchers,” Virgin Galactic is continuing its mission to advance air and space vehicles, revealing for the first time their new delta-winged Mach 3 super jet to be developed in collaboration with Rolls-Royce.

Virgin Galactic Mach 3 Super Jet Rolls Royce FAA
One very fast flight for up to 19 passengers. Credit: Virgin Galactic

Designed to carry up to 19 passengers at an altitude of 60,000 feet and reach a top speed of 2,300mph/3700kmh, the new Mach 3 Super Jet could travel between London and New York in just under 1.5 hours. It would take off and land like a regular passenger aircraft at existing airports worldwide and ntegrate into existing airport infrastructure.

To build the technology needed to make this happen, Virgin Galactic has signed a memorandum of intent with high Mach propulsion specialists, Rolls-Royce (not to be confused with Rolls-Royce Motorcars), who already have experience in creating the only civil-certified commercial aircraft capable of supersonic flight – aka the Concorde.

Virgin Galactic Mach 3 Super Jet Rolls Royce
Passengers will fly at altitudes up to 60,000 feet. Credit: Virgin Galactic

George Whitesides, Chief Space Officer, Virgin Galactic, shared, “We are excited to complete the Mission Concept Review and unveil this initial design concept of a high speed aircraft, which we envision as blending safe and reliable commercial travel with an unrivalled customer experience. We are pleased to collaborate with the innovative team at Rolls-Royce as we strive to develop sustainable, cutting-edge propulsion systems for the aircraft, and we are pleased to be working with the FAA to ensure our designs can make a practical impact from the start. We have made great progress so far, and we look forward to opening up a new frontier in high speed travel.”

“We are excited to partner with Virgin Galactic and TSC to explore the future of sustainable high speed flight,” said Rolls-Royce North America Chairman & CEO Tom Bell. “Rolls-Royce brings a unique history in high speed propulsion, going back to the Concorde, and offers world-class technical capabilities to develop and field the advanced propulsion systems needed to power commercially available high-Mach travel.”

Virgin Galactic Mach 3 Super Jet Rolls Royce Left Side Profile
At a top speed of 2,300mph/3700kmh passengers could fly from NY to London in 1.5 hours. Credit: Virgin Galactic

The new Mach 3 super jet’s design philosophy is focused on making high-speed travel practical, sustainable, safe, and reliable while keeping customer experience a top priority. The super jet can be configured for a range of operational scenarios, including service for passengers on long-distance commercial aviation routes, and can offer business or first-class seating arrangements.

Virgin Galactic has been previously working closely with international regulatory communities to ensure compliance with safety and environmental standards and are now working with FAA’s Center for Emerging Concepts and Innovation to outline a certification framework during the pre-project guidance phase.

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