Siemens in world first in electrifying flight
Global technology powerhouse Siemens soared past a technical milestone last month with the maiden flight of their newest electric motor, pumping out five times the power of any before it.
Researchers at Siemens developed the a groundbreaking electric motor, which weighing in at just 50 kilograms can deliver a continuous output of 260 kilo-watts. The motor took to the skies for the first time inside an Extra 330LE aerobatic plane on 24 June, before being put through its paces in a public flight from Schwarze Heide Airport just outside of Dinslaken, Germany, the following week. As well as the benefit of almost silently powering the plane above the waiting crowds, the technology marks a huge leap forward for the future of electrifying flight, with the motors set to be integrated into the development of hybrid-electric aircraft, in collaboration with Airbus.
The modified aerobatics plane that is currently powered by the new motor will continue to act as a flying test-bed for the technology. The craft, weighing just under 1,000 kilograms and used to performing daredevil aerial manoeuvres, is perfect for pushing the components of the motor to its limits, allowing the team on the ground to adapt and enhance their design.
Such an increase in the amount of power generated by an electric motor means that the production of hybrid aircraft with four or more seats is now a very real possibility.
Working in co-operation with Airbus, Siemens will continue to evolve their technology as a basis for developing a fleet of airliners powered by hybrid-electric propulsion systems. Frank Anton, head of EAircraft at Siemens’ central research unit Corporate Technology said: “This day will change aviation. This is the first time that an aircraft in the quarter-megawatt performance class has flown. By 2030, we expect to see initial aircraft with up to 100 passengers and a range of around 1000 kilometers.”
Determined to establish hybrid-electric propulsion systems as a future area of business, Siemens see their successful maiden flight as a major landmark. Siegfried Russwurm, Chief technology Officer at Siemens called for a fresh injection of engineering talent, saying: “To continue this journey successfully, we need disruptive ideas and the courage to take risks. That’s why the development of the electric propulsion systems for aircraft is also the first project for our new start-up organisation, next47.”
In this episode we speak to Dr Mark Schenk, an aerospace engineer whose childhood interest in origami led to innovative work developing foldable structures.Read more