European Commission Funds Avio Aero To Build Hybrid-Electric Propulsion Demonstrator

European Commission Funds Avio Aero To Build Hybrid-Electric Propulsion Demonstrator
MRO Business Today

A hybrid-electric propulsion technology demonstrator for commercial aviation applications has been commissioned by the European Commission's Clean Aviation joint undertaking. GE Aerospace says it will invest $34 million over four years in the Amber project as a part of GE Aerospace.

This Clean Aviation project involves developing a hydrogen fuel cell-powered megawatt-class propulsion system. Avio Aero plans to develop a demonstrator to determine how fuel cells are integrated with motors/generators, power converters, and transmission systems. By mid-2020, the company hopes to begin ground rig testing of the Catalyst turboprop engine from GE.

GE business units in Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Turkey are also members of the Amber consortium supporting Avio Aero. In addition to DLR (Germany), CIRA (Italy) and WIA (Poland), H2Fly and Leonardo are also partners.

As part of the Clean Aviation initiative, Amber is one of 20 initiatives aimed at reducing carbon emissions from air travel. 

It is Clean Aviation's primary objective to drive a step-change in aircraft performance by radically improving aircraft and fleet efficiency," stated Axel Krein, executive director at Clean Aviation. Our goal is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by at least 50% on regional aircraft compared to a typical flight today.

The Hydea project, involving Avio Aero, Safran Aircraft Engines, and Airbus, is another Clean Aviation project. Through the Ofelia program, the same companies and other partners are preparing for flight tests of open-fan engines later in the 2020s.

Avio Aero did not specify which aircraft platform might be used for flight testing the Amber propulsion system or what the possible timeline for that milestone might be when it announced the new funding on December 15. Currently, it is working with Leonardo on the Hera project to define a hybrid-electric regional airliner.

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