With the support of the Canadian government and a partnership with De Havilland Canada, Pratt & Whitney is accelerating the development of its hybrid-electric propulsion system, with the engine manufacturer expecting a 30 percent efficiency increase from the new technology. The project was launched in 2019 under a different code name with Collins Aerospace, but now the company is building a demonstrator with De Havilland Canada. The Canadian government is providing $160 million in funding for the project, which the developers hope will reduce fuel consumption and emissions by 30 percent, and the demonstrator will use a Dash 8-100.
The regional turboprop will be fitted with an electric motor and a control unit from Collins. Ground testing will start next year, with the first test flight in 2024. While Pratt & Whitney sees the hybrid-electric system as a way to make aviation greener, it is also working to improve the efficiency of the gas turbine units now on the market and to promote the production and use of kerosene from sustainable sources. Alongside Pratt, Rolls-Royce has also been involved in the development of alternative propulsion, and has previously partnered with Airbus. However, the European manufacturer has clearly opted for hydrogen propulsion, and the E-Fan X programme will be taken forward by the British manufacturer alone.
The aim of the latter programme is to build a demonstrator capable of carrying up to 100 passengers, which will initially be partially powered by electric propulsion and later fully electric.