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UTC begins work on hybrid electric aeroplane

United Technologies (UTC) has recently launched the advanced projects group within the company, which moves at speed to build and pilot ambitious product and service demonstrators.

The group’s first product demonstrator is a hybrid-electric X-plane under the project name, Project 804.

The number “804” represents the straight-line mileage between the Pratt & Whitney facility in Longueuil, Québec, and the Collins Aerospace facility in Rockford, Illinois.

The X-plane will be based on a Bombardier Dash 8 Series Q100 aircraft. This aircraft has the power levels and mission needs suited for a parallel hybrid application.   

The plane will be re-engined on one side with a 2 megawatt-class propulsion system combining an engine, sized for cruise power, and a similarly sized electric motor adding supplemental power during takeoff.

Its hybrid-electric propulsion system is expected to yield an average fuel savings of 30 percent. The demonstrator is expected to feature a mission range of approximately 600 nautical miles.

The X-plane’s first flight is currently planned within the next three years.

“We’re working on a highly aggressive timeline because we believe the electrification of flight is a massive opportunity,” said Jean Thomassin, the project director of Project 804.

The technical team includes experts at Pratt & Whitney, Collins Aerospace and the research organisation within United Technologies, as well as top external talent.

“For all intents and purposes, we’re gutting a plane, leveraging expertise from across the company to develop new technology, and installing that tech into the plane to revolutionize the future of aerospace,” said team member Greg Winn.