PHOTO CAPTION: Diamond hybrid plane would use twin electric motors in place of twin piston engines.

Diamond, Siemens Move Forward on Hybrid Twin Airplane

The world's first hybrid-electric general aviation airplane takes another step closer to reality.

Published: 05-Jun-2015

AVweb reports that Diamond Aircraft and Siemens are moving forward with their plan to develop a hybrid-electric general aviation aircraft based on the Diamond DA40-series twin pictured above.

Rather than mounting the motors on the wings, as it the normal convention for piston and turbine engine aircraft, the companies have released an illustration showing the electric motors mounted on canards on the nose (left in below image). This is similar to the approach used by the experimental CriCri electric airplane co-developed by EADS and pictured to the right in the below image.

canard-mounted motors on Diamond hybrid electric concept and CriCri experimental aircraft

The plan is to power the motors with a single, centrally located diesel generator. According to Diamond CEO Christian Dries, the...

"...two electric motors... each weigh less than 30 pounds but deliver 85 kw or 114 hp. The aircraft will use some 200 kg (440 pounds) of lithium ion batteries where the backseat would normally be, so it will be limited to two occupants... typical cruise speeds [would be] 110 to 120 knots, [and] the airplane would have 10 hours of endurance, burning 6 to 7 liters (1.8 gallons) per hour.

That is roughly 1/10th the burn rate of the piston engine model that consumes, at cruise, nearly 11 gallons per hour.

The project has a two-three year test phase, during which time the companies will be exploring technologies like those seen in NASA's GL-10 multi-motor, tilt wing test aircraft.

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Airbus E-Fan 1.0 prototype will be followed by two and four-place electric aircraft.

At current battery technology levels, 30 kg of cells is equivalent to 1 kg of conventional jet fuel, so for now the focus is on aircraft for flight schools.

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Based on the PC-Aero Elektra, the battery-powered electric airplane will also make its US public debut during July 27th press conference at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.


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