Rolls-Royce’s team in Hungary, Italian aircraft manufacturer Tecnam and Austrian engine manufacturer Rotax have made significant progress in revolutionising aviation and making it more sustainable. Following several successful ground tests, a unique hybrid-powered experimental aircraft took to the skies for the first time on 21 December 2021, the first in the world to be powered by an integrated parallel hybrid propulsion system. The test flights proved that a small aircraft equipped with a hybrid-electric propulsion system is more efficient and energy-saving, using up to 20 percent less fuel than a conventional internal combustion engine-powered aircraft of the same size. This results in significant emissions reductions.
The design, manufacture and integration of the electric propulsion system, electric motor, inverter, battery and control system for the Tecnam modified P2010 aircraft was the responsibility of the Hungarian Rolls-Royce team.
The advanced technology built into the aircraft enables fuel consumption and emissions reduction, as well as flight analysis, as the system collects comprehensive data in real time during flight to ensure optimal operation. The creation of the propulsion system also reflects Rolls-Royce’s global sustainability objectives to contribute to the company’s goal of carbon neutrality in aviation and the aviation industry as a whole by 2050.
The H3PS (High power, Hybrid powertrain and High-scalability aircraft) is one of the major projects of the Rolls-Royce Hungary team in which a flight test has been successfully carried out. The H3PS programme, which was completed with outstanding results, also strengthens the long-term collaboration with Tecnam, as the two companies joined forces to bring to market an all-electric commuter aircraft.
“The successful maiden flight of the H3PS aircraft is a pioneering achievement for the Hungarian Rolls-Royce team in the development of hybrid-electric flight. The programme has demonstrated our ability to design, manufacture and install a fully integrated system and has provided further flight experience in hybrid-electric flight. The knowledge gained here will be used by Rolls-Royce Hungary in future international projects to create higher performance hybrid propulsion systems capable of powering a 19-seat commuter aircraft,” said Zoltán Koltai, Head of Global Manufacturing, Rolls-Royce Electrical.
“Thanks to H3PS, we have further increased our competencies in the development of pure electric and hybrid-electric power conversion and propulsion systems for aviation. Our Hungarian colleagues are working as part of an international team to revolutionise aviation, such as the development of an all-electric propulsion system for an eVTOL (electrical Vertical Take-Off and Landing) aircraft. Rolls-Royce is committed to achieving sustainable carbon neutral aviation,” said Dr György Balázs Gergely, Managing Director of Rolls-Royce Hungary.
“The successful flight test of the experimental aircraft is a pioneering achievement for the team in the development of hybrid-electric aviation. The collaboration with Tecnam and Rotax has been extremely beneficial and the joint work has further enhanced our capabilities in developing pure electric and hybrid-electric power conversion and propulsion systems for the advanced aviation market. Rolls-Royce is committed to investing in technology solutions that enable sustainable aviation,” said Rob Watson, President, Rolls-Royce Electrical.