Airbus wants to fly a hybrid-electric helicopter next year

Most of the talk surrounding hybrid-electric propulsion has been about VTOLs and jets. However, on Friday, Airbus revealed its plan fly a helicopter using the technology.

Airbus and the French Ministry for Transport (DGAC) have announced that the company will fly a single-engine helicopter powered by its in-development hybrid-electric propulsion system next year.

The manufacturer plans to fly the testbed helicopter for up to 30 seconds without the use of the main gas turbine.

“The helicopter industry is transforming at a fast pace and I’m very excited about this new partnership with DGAC which helps us prepare the future of vertical flight”, said Bruno Even, Airbus Helicopters CEO.

“If introduced on serial helicopters, this technology could deliver new standards in terms of safety by providing pilots of single-engine rotorcraft more flexibility to perform autorotation in case of an engine shutdown. Further evolutions of the same technology could also pave the way to a significant reduction in fuel consumption and sound levels, further increasing the acceptance of helicopters in urban environments.”

Just last week, Airbus and DGAC also entered into an agreement with Daher to develop a new hybrid-electric turboprop based on Daher’s TBM platform. As part of this agreement, Airbus is supplying the hybrid-electric propulsion system to power the aircraft, which looks set to take its maiden flight in 2022.

Elisabeth Borne, French Minister for transport within the ministry of ecological and inclusive transition, said: “This project will result in new technologies and a demonstrator that are essential for the development of a new generation of cleaner helicopters. Thanks to the engagement of the French government and our business partners, France is demonstrating the leading role it intends to play for better environmental performance within our aviation sector”.

This post originally appeared on our sister publication Helicopter Investor.