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PHOTO CAPTION: Artists concept of Airbus VoltAir short-haul thrust-fan airliner

Airbus Start Designing 100-Seat Diesel-Hybrid Airliner

Goal is to develop short-haul airliner powered by hybrid-electric propulsion system by 2032

Published: 05-Aug-2015

Last month, Airbus made history as the first two-place electric airplane to fly across the English Channel. While the tiny Cri-Cri somewhat upstaged the aerospace giant by making the same flight the evening before, the successful flight of the ducted-fan flight trainer prototype begins at least a decade-long quest to adapt the technology behind the E-Fan to commercial passenger jets.

Airbus announced recently that it as begun development work on a future 100-passenger, short-haul airliner, powered by diesel-electric hybrid propulsion system. Where the E-Fan is entirely battery-powered, the airliner, it is envisioned in 2015, would use diesel engines to power onboard generators capable of putting out 6 MW of electric power. The energy, in turn, spins high-speed fan blades (thrusters), either blended into the rear of the aircraft or mounted in ducted-fan nacelles above the aircraft tail.

The exact time table is dependent on Airbus' plans to roll out an all-electric, two-place, side-by-side trainer called the E-Fan 2.0, followed by a four-passenger, hybrid-electric model dubbed the E-Fan 4.0. Lessons learned and technology to develop the 4.0 would help lead the way to the 100-seat commercial airliner. in the 2032 time frame.

See also Flight Global article on the project.

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