Collins, Pratt & Whitney Launch Hybrid-Electric Flight Demonstrator

Credit: Collins Aerospace

Collins Aerospace has completed a preliminary design review of the 1-megawatt electric motor and motor controller the company is developing for Pratt & Whitney Canada’s (P&WC) regional hybrid-electric flight demonstrator.

Collins said it has tested both systems to full current, voltage and speed, and plans to send prototypes to P&WC for ground testing later this year. Flight testing of the demonstrator is planned to begin in 2024 and will take place in Montreal.

Collins is developing the systems at its facility in Solihull, UK, and testing them at the University of Nottingham’s Institute for Aerospace Technology. It plans to conduct future testing of the motor and motor controller at The Grid, a 25,000-sq.-ft. electric power systems lab, at its facility in Rockford, Illinois. The Grid is expected to be fully operational in 2023.

Through the collaboration, Collins Aerospace president-power & controls Henry Brooks said the two companies are “developing sustainable hybrid-electric propulsion technologies that will play an integral role in helping the aviation industry reduce carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050.”

P&WC is working together with Collins, De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited, battery systems supplier H55 S.A. and other collaborators on the flight demonstrator. The program is targeting a 30% improvement in fuel efficiency and commensurate reduction in CO2 emissions, compared to today’s most advanced turboprop engines for regional aircraft. As part of the program, a De Havilland Dash 8-100 experimental aircraft will be re-engined on one side with a 2 megawatt-class propulsion system that combines a fuel-burning engine from P&WC with Collins’ 1 megawatt electric motor in a parallel hybrid configuration with a 50/50 power split. The electric motor will provide extra power during take-off and climb, allowing the fuel-burning engine to be optimized for cruise efficiency. The new technology will also be designed to run on 100% sustainable aviation fuel.

P&WC executive director-new products & services Jean Thomassin said, “By optimizing the performance of the propulsion system for greater efficiency, hybrid-electric technology provides a key pathway to setting new standards for sustainability in aviation, across a range of different applications.”

Linda Blachly

Linda Blachly is Senior Associate Editor for Air Transport World and Aviation Week. She joined the company in July 2010 and is responsible for producing features for Air Transport World’s monthly magazine and engaging content for the She is based in the Washington DC office.